This Thanksgiving, in the midst of all the cooking, too much turkey, and avoiding an alcoholic aunt who keeps insisting I stop being "a gay," I made a trip to the local cine and caught the early bird showing (because 6 dollars woot FTW) of My Week With Marilyn (Simon Curtis, who has never directed anything that does not sound horribly boring, and horribly British). The movie stars Michelle Williams as the iconic and beautiful (and batshit crazy) titular role of Marilyn Monroe as she worked with Laurence Olivier (played by Kenneth Brannaugh, who is I guess a very good actor, but all I can think of now is how he directed "Thor") on the comedy "The Prince and Showgirl." During the very tense filming (because Olivier is a dick and Marylin is an adorably damaged little puppy dog) she got cozy with a freckled little bastard Brit, Colin Clark, the third directing assistant to Sir Laurence. The movie is about several different things: filmmaking and movies in the 50's, about being 23 and horny, and of course, about Marylin Monroe, not only the person, but the myths that surrounded her. It is apparently a true story (because the credits told me it was a true story) and is based on the diaries kept by Colin while he spent his time with Marylin.
The movie, while not the best written thing, and not the most insightful biopic, has undeniable charm (which goes by the name Michelle Williams), some extremely wonderful performances (once again, by Michelle Williams. Okay, this is going to be a total ass-kiss fest of hers so if that turns you off just stop reading now), and had some really nice bits I was able to relate to throughout the film.
The movie starts with and is told through the eyes of young cinephile (typing that word feels dirty) Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne, who is annoying at first, but finds his way about a half hour into the movie. But after that all I could think about was how puffy his upper lip is). At the age of 23, he is desperate to get a job doing ANYTHING in the movies, even though his family is super boring and super stuffy and super into BRITISH things (like being boring and stuffy and, politics or whatever), and don't quite approve of his choices (not that the movie dwells on this point).
So Colin goes to Pecadilly Circus to get a crew job on a real movie set. They're not hiring so Colin does the "I will just show up here every single day and seem so endearing and enthasiastic that of course I will get hired soon" schtick, and big surprise, it works (which I just don't see how it really would in real life. Seems more like loitering than enthusiasm. And think if you applied this stick-to-iteveness to trying to date a girl? You would appear to be a serial rapist). But here inlies one of the things I really enjoyed about the movie, and that was every character's love for film. Colin can't help it, and just knows he has to have some sort of job in the movie industry, and I have long since felt that way too (I haven't camped outside any major studios and demand employment, however, so maybe that's what I'm missing). And everyone else in the movie is either an actor, director, crew member, movie-job-worker-whathaveyou, and the movie created a nice sense of how important making these movies (even a light-hearted comedy like the one they were making) is to all them. The entire movie Luarence Olivier is a total dick, but I got the vibe that it was, overall, because making the film was important to him (and because Laurence Olivier was apparently a dick).
Marylin Monroe is gorgeous and and adorable and totally snuggable, but paralyzed with self doubt and terrified that everyone in her life is going to up and abandon her. So pretty much she's your average woman (read: crazy. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYUMN!) She and Olivier cannot get on the same page because he is classically (and Britishly) trained, and she has to have this Jewish Life Coach follow her around all day to tell her she doesn't suck. She is intimidated, even though everyone loves her. But after he sees her naked (the movie has two really nice Michelle Williams butt-shots) and helps her on the set, little Colin starts to grow on the starlet. He is nice to her (like everyone is), but does so in a way that strikes her as more honest, and the two start spending more and more time together.
Marylin just cannot be alone. Can't hack it. Ever. She's so unsure of herself that she is 100% dependent on others to keep her up (Like Jewish midwives). And Colin, I mean shit, how could you NOT fall in love with Marylin Monroe (ESPECIALLY when she is REALLY Michelle Williams)? Especially if you are 23, have freckles, and are working on a movie set for the first time in your life. So the dynamics of their relationship, while not really the healthiest, and definitely not going to work out well for Colin, was fun for me to watch. I liked seeing the way they tiptoe through this game. It's one you can tell Marylin has done plenty of times before (finding new people to adore her), and even though Colin is not stupid enough to think they are really going to end up together, he can't help but try. And that is what I responded to. Maybe I'm feeling a bit girly these days (aka menstruating), but I liked that hopeless and impossible feeling of love he had for the superstar (it just makes me want to write little love notes and fold em up and put them in crush's locker after 3rd period. And in the note I want to draw little smiley faces after I say something cutesy like "I can't wait to just feel your body while I hoooold you." INSERT SMILING FACE). Redmayne does a fine job displaying how unbelievable their courtship is to him, but you can tell he's just doing his best to play it cool. "Sure, Marylin Monroe and me go skinny dipping and make out. No big whoop." But it IS a big whoop! That is a very big whoop! And both Redmayne and Colin know how big of a whoop it is, and he can't help but fall in love with her. That might sound silly, considering he doesn't know her, just met her, she's crazy, oh and married, but trust me. You'd fall in love too.
Of course, none of these reasons are the REAL reason that this movie is getting (mostly) good reviews and is being favored by movie peoples (movie peoples LIKE ME). And, very obviously so, it's because of Michelle Williams' performance. Now, to make it even clearer to everyone reading this (I truly can't imagine anyone is reading this), but I got it bad for Michelle Williams. I love her little face and the way her skin looks softer than most girls' and her big brown eyes. And she's fucking talented. (Woah, I just realized everything I said about her coudl also be applied to how I feel about Ryan Gosling). But all my adoration aside, she was fantastic in the role. I am not a big Marylin Monroe fan (not that I DON'T like her or anything) and I don't have a large deal of interest in her (not that I DON'T have interest in her or anything), but mere moments into the film I became absolutely enamored with her, just like you're supposed to. Williams just gets right in there and makes me believe absolutely everything she does, and every way she acts. She gets it down just right and it doesn't just feel like another impersonation of a famous person, but like she is actually acting, creating the emotions in a way that made sense to her, not only seeing the world through Marylin's eyes, but making an entire world out of them that she can freely exist in. It's really just a solid performance. One that she should be credited for, and one that she will probably be nominated for. The interweb told me that they were originally trying to get Scarlett Johannsen to play the starlet. I'm so glad they decided against that, however, and decided to try and make a movie that didn't totally suck.
I liked how the movie kept its Marylin guard up for at least the first third of its runtime, giving us only peeks at her. First time we see her she is performing a musical number. The second time she is in the middle of a huge interview, wooing the reporters with her ever so coy responses. But Williams lets the guard down in a big way and shows us all the vulnerability and insecurities the actress dealt with every day. But the plot never progress too deep, or too dramatically (drama for drama's sake), and they don't have to, seeing as we all know how it's going to end for her (she bangs a president and is happy forever, right?) The movie (and Williams) very nicely shows you her deep issues, but more in a foreshadowing kind of way.
So there it is. I like movies about pining, and I like movies with Michelle Williams, and I like pining for Michelle Williams, so this movie is going to get the nod from me.
RATING: 8 out of 10