Friday, April 13, 2012

Michelle Williams, in My Week with Marilyn

approximately 43 minutes and 41 seconds

47.7% of the film

The film

Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier's, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.

You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

The film is like a TV movie with a good cast, but not much of a screenplay. I think it depends too much on Michelle’s charm and not enough on creating a character that would be interesting or intriguing outside of its name interest.

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe

This is a difficult performance to judge because I don’t think any well-known actress should even attempt to play an icon like Marilyn Monroe. In my opinion, they should’ve gone with a lesser known actress and give the audience a chance to believe more the story and in the performance. I didn’t see Marilyn Monroe, I saw Michelle Williams giving a good performance as a spoiled whinny actress. This automatically killed some of the pleasure I had watching the film.

Michelle plays Marilyn Monroe circa 1956, when she was filming The Prince and the Showgirl in England, with Sir Laurance Olivier as her co-star and director. The film follows her acting struggles, her addiction to prescription pills, her emotional breakdowns, but also shows her as a star, a naturally seductive woman, as seen through the eyes of a young man. There’s plenty of flirting, also some tears and many scenes to prove the emotional mess Marilyn was becoming.

As I said, in some ways this performance was dead from the start for me. So while I didn’t enjoy watching it, I can still judge elements of it beyond that. I could not blame Michelle for not trying, she does almost the best she can; some would say she captures the spirit of Marilyn, her flirty seductive way, and I partly agree. I think she’s at her best in the scenes where she’s having fun and also in the scenes of actually shooting TPATS.

Where I didn’t feel she put enough effort in it was in the scenes where Marilyn is under the effect of all the pills she’s taking. Either she was trying a bit too hard which doesn’t make it look so believable or it just ended up looking like lazy acting in such a particular scene. To Michelle’s defence, I didn’t think the screenplay helped too much.

Marilyn was to me one of the most dislikeable characters in the film: she’s made to look either too whinny, too dependent or a manipulative person. I don’t remember a particular moment when I was on the side of her character and I wonder if Michelle could’ve done more here: somehow move away from the misogynistic tendencies of the writing and give it a bit more personality, less victim, more range.

Even if I’d get past the image aspect of the role which doesn’t work in Michelle’s favour, I didn’t enjoy the way they portrayed Marilyn: I can blame the writer, I can blame the director for giving poor advice, but I’d also blame Michelle for not taking Marilyn’s side by never giving us hints that this is a woman who is at least aware that her life is spinning out of control. It’s an ok performance, but poorly guided and not memorable enough: a from me.


Anonymous said...

She makes such a great Marilyn because she looks as fragile as she did.

Anonymous said...

Although she doesn't look like Monroe, she became Monroe in her mind and heart. Unlike Streep, Williams didn't impersonate her character, but became her. Same situation is when Langella imitated Nixon, and Hopkins became Nixon in other movie although he didn't look like Nixon at all. SO when you discuss performance (unlike when you discuss make up) physical resemblance is least important aspect, instead of most important (and thats why you're impressed by Streep).

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I'm glad she became Marilyn in her mind and heart, but couldn't she have tried becoming Marilyn on the screen, too? ;)

It's a meh performance, to be sure. I don't have a problem with her physical resemblance (or lack thereof) to Monroe, but the performance itself is lacking depth. She's a different person each scene, with very few connecting tissues. Mostly the script's fault, but God, Michelle, give us SOMETHING.

JC said...

I was surprised by your grade. When I was reading it, I thought you would give her a 2. :D

dinasztie said...

Same as JC. You seem to have been more lenient recently (look who's talking). :) Are you OK? :P

Serious stuff: It's a terrible movie that couldn't find its topic. The main problem was that it wanted too much and pulled off nothing.

I liked Michelle to an extent (she's a modern day Sissy Spacek IMO), mostly because she had a great presence but as you said, an unknown actress should have played Marilyn. Her part is getting more and more boring so I might even say that movies about Marilyn should be banned. She was enough of a legend herself. Leave her alone. :D

Alex in Movieland said...

your dislike for Meryl's performance is becoming redundant & annoying. :) you don't have to mention it in every post, even in the ones not about her.

You can't compare Marilyn Monroe to Margaret Thatcher, and so yes: I won't be as harsh on the physical aspect of Iron Lady, because Margaret Thatcher is NOT an icon of Marilyn Monroe's level!! (as if that needed to be said). Makeup doesn't have anything to do with it, it's not like Meryl looks anything like younger Thatcher.
No issue with Marion Cotillard playing Piaf, Helen Mirren playing Elizabeth II, Reese playing June Cash and so on... But you DON'T go for Marilyn Monroe, because she's in a different category.

you're right: too many faces, yet strangely I still have the feeling it lacks range.

@JC & dinasztie,
I thought the scenes on the set were quite fun; not more believable, but she sure has her good acting moments. (the scene where she calls out for Lee Strasberg comes to mind; or the little dance; or when Vivies visits the set)

Fritz said...

I haven't seen her yet and not sure what to expect. I also think that normally it's more important that an actor catches the inner aspects of a character but MM is simply sooo iconic and so distinctive that the exterior has to fit, too.