Sunday, February 26, 2012

A girl’s best friend

“My Week With Marilyn” follows the fast friendship between aspiring filmmaker Colin Clark and iconic Marilyn Monroe while he assisted on the set of her 1950s romantic comedy “The Prince and the Showgirl.”  
Educated, determined but inexperienced, the young Clark (Eddie Redmayne) lands a job as a gofer for Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who was set to co-star and direct the film. The much-anticipated project with Monroe (Michelle Williams) immediately hits a snag, as the newly wed Hollywood actress has trouble acclimating to the role, among other challenges.

Based on Clark’s memoirs, “My Week With Marilyn” poignantly illustrates a portion of the tragic screen idol’s life, providing details on some of her unhappiest and most trying moments. Through that demanding and difficult period, she only trusted two people, motherly acting coach Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), and reliable errand boy Colin Clark, who immediately gets smitten with the popular actress, practically forgetting that he just started dating a lovely wardrobe assistant (Emma Watson).

Branagh’s interpretation of Olivier amuses, especially when focusing on the actor-director’s exasperation with, and deep admiration for Monroe. Redmayne is a strong enough presence to keep the Colin character intriguing; the actor’s face is dramatically lit half the time, almost as often as Williams’, funnily enough.

Unquestionably, Michelle Williams’ performance is assured and quite stunning. Those only familiar with her “Dawson’s Creek” work will find no trace of that overly self-aware teen; she’s proven in recent years that she’s capable of so much more. Williams channels the heartbroken and heartbreaking Marilyn, whose contradictions both enchant and mystify.

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