Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe
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.