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Marilyn Monroe portrayed by Michelle Williams in Oscar worthy ‘My Week With Marilyn’

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Michelle Williams impersonates Marilyn Monroe, sets her sights on Academy Gold

On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Film Festival will offer a special replay of one the best movies premiered in the past week, My Week With Marilyn. The movie features a stunning star turn from Michelle Williams  as Marilyn Monroe  that will likely be remembered come Oscar time.My Week With Marilyn photo: The Weinstein Co.

The sometimes innocuous and featherweight My Week With Marilyn chronicles true events recorded in the diary of one Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who worked with Monroe as an assistant director on the film The Prince and the Showgirl. Clark wormed his way into the production as a lowly assistant director only to have a truly unforgettable experience.

Absolutely ecstatic to work with his idol, Clark shows up sunny and eager on set only to quickly learn that his crush is far from the heavenly pin up girl America has painted her as. During a casual script read through, she shows up hours late, already irritating the director of the film Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who hasn’t even begun shooting yet.

The production doesn’t flow much better for Monroe, who grows more scattered as the days pass. Crushed from an abundance of insecurity and Olivier’s limited patience, the entire filming process goes haywire. When Marilyn’s husband Arthur Miller  (Dougray Scott) heads back to the states for a breather, she catches the young Colin’s eye, recruiting him as a suitor.

The remainder of the film details Clark’s time with Marilyn, through pill popping nights, skinny dipping excursions, and even some brief moments of intimacy.  Through their bond, she finds someone to trust, and he falls blindly in love, though warned by her straight-laced manger (Dominic Cooper) that this euphoric moment will soon pass. Meanwhile, Monroe’s performance improves on set, illuminating the stage and truly giving an opportunity to show the talents that catapulted the beautiful actress to astronomical heights.My Week With Marilyn photo: The Weinstein Co.

My Week With Marilyn, as mentioned, can come across cutesy and slight, but there is one thing that turns it into something more. Williams is absolutely uncanny as Monroe, effortlessly stepping into the late actresses shoes almost seamlessly, rarely breaking character. She also brings a wonderful empathy to a lost, fragile woman; one greatly overshadowed by a false persona America has created her to be. The performance is filled with luminescent moments that truly remind why the world fell in love with Monroe to begin with.

Director Simon Curtis does manage to bring the story somewhere deeper as the film rolls into the second half, focusing on Clark and Marilyn’s relationship and the brief window in which Clark gets to tap into her world and possibly affect her. He also wrings some powerful supporting turns out of Branagh and the young charming Redmayne. That’s not quite enough however, and a calculated voiceover conclusion reminds of the film’s simple roots.

My Week With Marilyn is the kind of dazzling, pop art cinema that remains an engaging pleasant experience from beginning to end.  If the movie just doesn’t carry enough substance to stick with the viewer, it has an outstanding central performance by Williams that manages to elevate it above genial entertainment.  

Check out these other reviews from the Philadelphia Film Festival

'Anonymous and Melancholia' Review

The Real Rocky' Review

'Collaborator' Review

'Like Crazy Review' 

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com

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Photo: The Weinstein Co.