“My Week With Marilyn” stars Michelle Williams (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Blue Valentine”) in what is without a doubt one of the most stunning and committed performances of the year. Williams captures everything about Marilyn Monroe from the way she moves and talks (both accent and enunciation) to even the little things like her eyes and even her fingers. It’s flawless on every level.
Kenneth Branagh is equally good as the great Sir Laurence Olivier, a professional, a charmer and, like Monroe, a tortured star dealing with harsh inner problems.
All of it adds up to a movie that sheds light on the baggage and perception of celebrities through the telling of one man’s story working on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl” starring Olivier and Monroe, two of film’s most illustrious stars.
The movie does a solid job of showing the effects of celebrityhood on both sides of the spectrum. One is through the eyes of Monroe, who is struggling with an immense amount of pressure being “the most famous woman in the world” and her peers’ one-sided view of her along with their lack of faith in her. The other is from the side of the man, Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who develops feelings for Monroe, as any man would for an any screen siren like Monroe. But unlike 99 percent of all other men, Clark is actually able to get Monroe to fall for him as well. This fuels assumptions and one-sided views of the two lovers.
The movie succeeds in spades when Williams and Branagh are on screen, and this is where the meat of the story’s ideas take form. But in a lot of the early scenes involving Clark, the story struggles to find any real place for him. At that point in the story, he is merely an onlooker on the set and is treated as such. Even his scenes with the costume designer played by Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”), although relevant, don’t pack much flavor. This also applies to his scenes with him and Monroe enjoying days together. Again, they are necessary but just don’t feel like more than what they are: surface encounters.
But the movie triumphs in its character interaction. All the most important scenes just involve short interactions, but with powerful bits of dialogue that also at times manage to be quite funny. (This film is classified as a comedy.)
All in all, this is a superbly acted film that manages to be funny and insightful in its journey into celebrity-hood even if it doesn’t always hit its mark.