Williams shines as Marilyn Monroe

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By Kristen Cloyed, Entertainment Editor

“My Week with Marilyn” is based on the 1956 writings of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a 23-year-old Oxford graduate who determinedly made his way into the film industry as third assistant director on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.”

Clark is forced into the middle as Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) refuse to work with each other. Olivier sends Clark to fetch Monroe when she’s three hours late, and when he confronts Monroe, she demands to know, “Whose side are you on?”

Clark’s account was published nearly 40 years later as “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me,” but one week was missing. This slice of time was published in 2000 as “My Week with Marilyn.”

At first, Clark’s presence on the set is innocent. He runs errands, greets people at the gate and falls for Lucy (Emma Watson), the film’s wardrobe assistant. The more time Clark spends wrangling Monroe, the harder it is for him to remain grounded. When Monroe’s husband, Arthur Miller, gives up and returns to America, Clark swoops in and escorts her around England.

Monroe, desperate to get away from the stifling film set, follows Clark to Eton College, where she is bombarded by young boys each demanding a kiss. Clark then takes her to Windsor Castle, where she is invited to touch the Queen’s famous dollhouse. Royal librarian Sir Owen Morshead (Derek Jacobi) watches in awe as he tells Monroe the Queen was wondering a few days earlier, “What must it be like to be the most famous woman on Earth?”

Directed by Simon Curtis, “My Week with Marilyn” is not an overview of Monroe’s glamorous life or her indelible impact on the film industry. Instead, it offers a rare glimpse into the real Monroe—the insecure, childlike actress who often hid behind the spotlight. As she’s admiring the Queen’s dollhouse, Monroe opens up about her mother. “Little girls shouldn’t be told how pretty they are,” she says. “They should grow up knowing how much their mother loves them.” In another emotional scene, Monroe leans on Clark for support as she confesses, “People always see Marilyn Monroe. As soon as they realize I’m not her, they run.”

Williams shines as Monroe. Her voice is spot on and her face bears an uncanny resemblance to the starlet. Williams’ performance earned her the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. In her acceptance speech, Williams thanked her daughter, Matilda, who she said tolerated six month’s worth of bedtime stories told in the voice of Monroe.  

Branagh’s performance as Olivier is just as inspiring. He is barely able to contain his rage with Monroe as he goes from adoring her one minute to completely loathing her the next. Sitting in his dressing room during one scene, he sighs and confesses, “I think directing a movie is the best job ever created, but Marilyn has cured me of ever wanting to do it again.”

Redmayne shows promise as a young actor. His portrayal of Clark is honest and raw, leaving the audience wanting more. Watson’s role as Lucy is disappointingly small, especially for her first big post-Potter role. Her character is a nice addition to the film, but she falls to the wayside as Clark frolics around with Monroe.

Overall, the film is well done and beautifully acted. With the rest of awards season rapidly approaching, “My Week with Marilyn” is sure to be in the running. The film, which premiered on Oct. 9 at the New York Film Festival, is currently playing in select theaters.

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