Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe stars in Simon Curtis’ film My Week With Marilyn.

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe stars in Simon Curtis’ film My Week With Marilyn.

Reel Reviews: A legend before the fall

Taylor and Howe review My Week with Marilyn, featuring Michelle Williams' Oscar nominated role as icon Marilyn Monroe.

  • Feb. 26, 2012 7:00 p.m.

In 1956 Marilyn Monroe (Academy Award Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams) traveled to England to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl,  with renowned actor/director Sir Laurence Olivier (Best Supporting Actor nominee Kenneth Branagh).

Twenty-three -year-old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is hired as the third assistant director, a job which he describes as “a gopher.” Clark keeps a diary that becomes first, the 1995 book, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, then the Oscar nominated film, My Week with Marilyn.

Monroe was considered to be at the peak of her career at this time and was certainly a superstar. However, as this film points out, there is a difference between stardom and respect as an actor.

With her performance in the Prince, Marilyn, by way of using method acting, was attempting to become a serious actress. Young Clark sums up the crux of the contention between the starlet and the bullying director nicely when Marilyn asks, “Why is Laurence so mean?” He answers, “Because he is a great actor who wants to be a film star. You are a film star who wants to be a great actor and this film won’t help either of you.”

Monroe, an insecure and needy woman, was already succumbing to the forces around her. Sexually exploited on and off the screen and unable to cope with the directors’ pressure to “just be sexy. Isn’t that what you do?”

However, the magic of Marilyn shines, creating as much turmoil for the people around her, as herself. Clark becomes her confidant, someone she feels is honest and “on her side.” The story he tells is of an enchanting and fragile starlet.

We say, “watch it.”

HOWE: I knew very little about Marilyn Monroe and I always thought, what’s the big fuss? Yes, she’s beautiful, but she didn’t seem like anything special.

TAYLOR: I think part of Marilyn’s magic was her presence. As her assistant states, “When Marilyn gets it right, you just don’t want to look at anyone else.”

HOWE: Clark, the narrator of the story and the writer of the book, does a great job of delving into Marilyn’s world.

TAYLOR: Yes, there are tiny clues to her past peppered in the script. Her mother was in a mental institution, she didn’t know her father. Michelle Williams’ amazing performance cemented the portrayal of Monroe as damaged.

HOWE: Williams is perfect, spotlighting how Monroe needed to be loved, comforted and seemed to be always seeking escape. When she was not having fun, her darker side reared its ugly head, the drugs, the drink, the child-like insecurity.

TAYLOR: Williams deserves her Oscar nod. She doesn’t quite look like Monroe, but her voice and her mannerisms were studied. Bravo.

HOWE: This is an excellent movie, beautifully shot, top notch acting all around and giving us an insight in to a movie icon. Marilyn was more than just beautiful.

Taylor gives My Week with Marilyn 4 breathy giggles out of 5.

Howe gives it 4 screen legends out of 5.

My Week with Marilyn is currently playing at the Vernon Towne Cinema.