FilmNovember 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Michelle Williams dazzles as the original blonde bombshell in My Week With Marilyn

It was recently announced that Marilyn Monroe inspires Lindsay Lohan’s upcoming Playboy spread, which features “very classy” full–frontal nudity.

While I am sure “some find it hot” to see LiLo in the buff, I doubt these photographs will have anything on My Week With Marilyn in the classy department.

Director Simon Curtis’ biographical drama about the iconic Marilyn Monroe explores the tumultuous British set of her 1957 comedy The Prince and the Showgirl, which was directed by and co–starred Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). The story is told through the eyes of 24–year–old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who is the set’s third assistant director and whose memoirs inspired My Week With Marilyn’s screenplay.

Michelle Williams gives a multifaceted performance as the troubled superstar. While she utterly embodies the look and spirit of the legendary bodacious blonde, her exquisite work goes far beyond imitation. Marilyn may be a bubbly sex symbol, but she is quite sensitive. Concerned with her reputation as an actress, she brings a personal acting coach to the set and often arrives late. In doing so, she manages to both frustrate and captivate everyone on the set of the film, from innocent Colin to temperamental Olivier.

The supporting cast is composed of strong Hollywood names, but the script fails to highlight each of the impressive presences. Emma Watson, in her first major post–Harry Potter role, is charming as ever as Lucy, a costume girl is who serves as Colin’s more attainable romantic interest, but the character is underdeveloped. The relationship seems sudden if not phony, and Lucy is barely different from a magic–free Hermione Granger. The rest of the cast includes Dougray Scott, as Monroe’s new husband, playwright Arthur Miller; Dominic Cooper, in a dry, superfluous role; Julia Ormand, as Olivier’s wife, actress Vivien Leigh; and Dame Judi Dench, under–utilized as aging actress Sybil Thorndike.

Simon Curtis, who has a background exclusively in television, moves the film along with a decidedly fast pace. Jazzy and exaggerated, the film’s tempo can come off as unrealistic and glorified, but mirrors the intensity and power of Monroe’s celebrity. Parallels are easily drawn to the troubled starlets of today as fans attack Marilyn like modern–day paparazzi. She’s flirtatious and takes pills. She cries when she’s criticized. Sound familiar?

My Week with Marilyn is heartbreaking and breathtaking. The scenery is gorgeous and the script is both unsettling and romantic. But it’s no surprise that this film belongs to Michelle Williams, whose performance reminds us why “gentlemen prefer blondes.”

3/5 stars
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Starring: Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson and Judi Dench
Rated R, 101 min.
See it if you liked: Me and Orson Welles (2010)

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