The film is set in the summer of 1956 in London where Marilyn Monroe at the extreme height of her fame made her movie “The Prince and The Showgirl” with the great Lawrence Olivier. Coming up with a movie about a famous person of this magnitude although she did not live long enough to further complicate her life story, is certainly not an easy feat. That is also why “My Week With Marilyn”, a film with a focus on just a week out of Marylin’s life, is a poignant, effectively-paced and truly enjoyable depiction of a cultural icon, so familiar and oh-so- dear to many generations.
“My Week With Marilyn” boasts the best performance by an ensemble cast since “The Help”. Eddie Redmayne, already a Tony winner at the age of 29, is one leading force giving a pitch perfect performance as the young Colin Clark who wrote “The Prince, the showgirl and me: The Colin Clarke Diaries” and “My Week With Marylin”, the two books that this film is based on. Redmayne, also the face of recent Burberry ad campaigns, brings such exuberance, innocence and awkward boyish charm yet effortlessly making us believe why Marilyn would want to run away with him…even for a while.
Never the one to get overpowered or outshined regardless of who she is standing on stage or sharing the camera frame with, Dame Judi Dench, with every word spoken, is a real scene stealer here as the theatre great Dame Sybil Thorndike. Both Julia Ormond (marvelous yet understated as always) and Kenneth Brannagh(in an Oscar-worthy role) have enormous weight on their shoulders since they are playing two of the finest actors that ever came out of England- Vivien Leigh and Sir Lawrence Olivier. Harry Potter’s Emma Watson, in her first coming-of-age role, is lovely as Lucy, a small role as Colin’s love interest but nonetheless a fitting one- And she snogs with Colin! Many Times!!!
Now…How do you play an icon like Marilyn Monroe? Even more interesting - who would be gutsy enough to play her? Michelle Williams (two-time Oscar nominee) channels Monroe with “Precision” (the giggle, the walk, the run, the stare and the iconic Marilyn-Shhhh!-pose…all done convincingly), “Understanding” (Williams not only transforms herself physically to portray the sultry magnetic sex symbol, she also digs deep inside of Marylin to reveal the troubled fragile side of her) and most importantly “Subtlety” (It’s just too easy to go overboard here and become somewhat comical and cheesy or worse, rather end up being a drag queen impersonation of Marilyn). Michelle Williams is so incredible as Marilyn that I cannot possibly imagine anybody else playing this role.
A compilation of Marilyn’s iconic images, Marilyn wearing the black turtle neck, that famous brown trench coat and the white head scarf or the plain white men’s shirt paired with a pencil skirt are all meticulously recreated (costume designer, Jill Taylor) effectively landing hands in converting Michelle Williams into Marilyn Monroe.
The audiences, especially Marylin lovers, are sure to be moved beyond words for its light-hearted storyline, clever direction (Simon Curtis in his first film as the director) electrifying cast and last but not least, the portrayal of Marylin as a sympathetic human being, not the dumb-blonde sex siren that many perceive her to be. This may not be the last year’s The King’s Speech but nevertheless a captivating biopic. It is also a great tribute and celebration of Monroe’s legacy.