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My Week With Marilyn

Starring Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, and Judi Dench

There are two very good reasons to see "My Week With Marilyn". One is the fabulous soundtrack --- original music by Conrad Pope, whose impressive resume includes "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Harry Potter" and "The Polar Express", among many others. But the primary pleasure of this film is an overwhelming portrayal of Marilyn Monroe by Michelle Williams, certainly the highlight of her career, and possibly the best female performance of the year. She is simultaneously comic and heartbreaking, displaying what fellow cast member Kenneth Branagh (as Sir Laurence Olivier) describes as "profoundly sad". Those of us who lived through Marilyn's tragic death in 1962 know full well what is in store for her, yet, for better or worse, the movie never deals with it. We see a frequently doped up Marilyn, a woman obviously hiding from her insecurities, but if we hadn't known about the history of her drug overdose at age 36 --- speculation about her death ranges from suicide to accidental to even homicide --- there would be nothing in the film to suggest she will self destruct. There is not even a mention at the movie's conclusion that this occurred, only that her next film after "The Prince and the Showgirl" --- the movie being shot within the movie --- was one of the greatest comedies of all time, the hilarious "Some Like It Hot". Williams is simply stunning. She captures the physical essence of Marilyn right down to her cutesy dance routines and coquettish mannerisms, as she latches on to the movie-within-a-movie's "third assistant director", Colin Clark, played effectively by 29-year-old British actor Eddie Redmayne. Clark authored the true story about one week he spent with Monroe 40 years ago, when he was the Third AD on the set of "The Prince and the Showgirl". Redmayne is perfect as the assistant to Olivier, smitten with Marilyn. We know he is already a fan, because the opening sequences of "MWWM" show him in the audience at an earlier Monroe film. Colin is warned by another character in the cast, Milton Greene (Dominic Cooper), not to fall for Marilyn because she will certainly break his heart. But of course, he chooses to ignore the advice. Branagh's likeness to Olivier is quite remarkable, right down to the cleft chin. His character is our insight into Marilyn Monroe's tortured soul, but without the physical resemblance of an actress to the real Monroe, there would obviously be no movie. Williams exudes Marilyn, transforming herself into the performance of a lifetime. We are headed into that time of year when potential Academy Award nominees are being touted by their studios, but it's hard to imagine a better acting job by a female lead from this point on. If Michelle Williams is not one of the five best actress candidates for 2011, I will eat this review. Courtesy David Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan Official Trailer
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Directed by: 
Simon Curtis
Running Time: 
Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench
Screenplay by: 
Adrian Hodges, Colin Clark

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