Bar Michelle Williams, ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is full of the one-note

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My Week with Marilyn
Written by Adrian Hodges
Directed by Simon Curtis
UK/USA, 2011

My Week with Marilyn’s key strength, and obvious biggest point of interest for most viewers, is Michelle Williams’ turn as Monroe. Williams excels at portraying various facets of Monroe’s star image omnipresent in pop culture, but the quality of the performance extends beyond simple mimicry into a richer portrayal of Norma Jeane’s psyche, albeit one admittedly a reflection of the diary of Colin Clark that the film is adapted from. Williams loses herself completely in the role, both inhabiting the icon and avoiding one-dimensional caricature. This overshadows the rest of the film, however, which is unfortunately full of the one-note.

My Week with Marilyn’s key strength, and obvious biggest point of interest for most viewers, is Michelle Williams’ turn as Monroe. Williams excels at portraying various facets of Monroe’s star image omnipresent in pop culture, but the quality of the performance extends beyond simple mimicry into a richer portrayal of Norma Jeane’s psyche, albeit one admittedly a reflection of the diary of Colin Clark that the film is adapted from. Williams loses herself completely in the role, both inhabiting the icon and avoiding one-dimensional caricature. This overshadows the rest of the film, however, which is unfortunately full of the one-note.

Regarding the one dimensional, the screenplay is also very much prone to stating the obvious in its dialogue, and characters like the thankless one Emma Watson portrays, as real as they may or may not have been in relation to the real life production, ultimately provide nothing substantial; too much of the film feels superfluous. My Week with Marilyn, as a whole, doesn’t really provide much beyond the superficial either, outside of Michelle Williams’ performance which truly is worthy of praise, as is Branagh’s lesser but still fine turn. As it stands, it feels representative, both content-wise and visually, of some of television’s one-off period drama work associated with the parents of its production company BBC Films: a reasonably entertaining if hollow distraction. The film does have some charm and a lot of funny moments, but it would have been a far more satisfying work if those surrounding Marilyn had a more rounded, interesting depiction themselves.

Josh Slater-Williams

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