We See Chick Flicks: “My Week With Marilyn”

Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench and Emma Watson

You might think “My Week With Marilyn” would be a lighthearted film about one of the most famous women in the modern history of the world. After all, it’s about a romance between Monroe and a set gopher while she filmed “The Prince and the Showgirl,” a comedy. But I walked out of the theater with just the opposite — a heavy heart. (And the steadfast belief that Michelle Williams, who plays Marilyn Monroe, should be nominated for an Oscar.)

“My Week With Marilyn” peels back the curtain on the iconic star, revealing the people behind the scenes in Marilyn’s private life who were there — or weren’t there — in her most tumultuous private moments. And those tumultuous private moments? There are many. The film lets us in on Marilyn’s pill addiction, her troubles getting pregnant, her flailing marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, her manipulative and self-serving handlers (feeding her drugs, of course), and her ever-present crippling insecurity. Despite being considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, Marilyn was obsessed with her skill as an actress — she was convinced she didn’t have any and felt terrible about it. What looked to outsiders, including 23-year-old Colin (played by British cutie Eddie Redmayne), like a glamorous woman with an enviable life of luxury and finery was actually Marilyn’s own private hell. It’s heartbreaking to watch Colin fall in love with Marilyn, only to realize how she is almost too fragile to function. One almost feels relieved for him that their love affair lasted only a week. 

The Verdict: “My Week With Marilyn” is a must-see for Marilyn Monroe-philes (paging LiLo), Laurence Olivier-philes (surely they exist, right?) and anyone who is interested in old Hollywood. Even though “The Prince and the Showgirl” was filmed in Britain, a good amount of the early part of the film sheds light on 1950s Hollywood, particularly the “blacklist” against alleged communists, including Monroe’s husband Miller. It’s probably worth watching for anyone who loves the English countryside as well, since there are some beautiful scenes. And whoever handled the lighting on Michelle Williams face definitely deserves an Oscar. She’s positively luminescent.  Unfortunately both Judi Dench and Emma Watson are underused in the film, so don’t bother seeing it if you’re only going to see them. But if you can’t be bothered to spend $10 for any of these reasons, you can surely wait until “My Week With Marilyn” hits DVD. 

One more thing: There was some debate at the screening that I attended, which was organized for feminist bloggers, about how accurately the film depicts Marilyn Monroe’s body.  Specifically, women were complaining that Michelle Williams is too skinny to play the zaftig star and despite Michelle’s obvious booty padding, she doesn’t look “big enough” to be Marilyn. Meh. I thought whatever body contouring Michelle Williams had to go through to play the role was fine. It’s something to think about if you do see the flick.  

[IMDB: My Week With Marilyn]

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