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My Week With Marilyn (overall movie review)

Updated on August 17, 2012

Marilyn Monroe will forever be that iconic Hollywood figure with the full pouty red lips, the bombshell blond hair, and the ooze of sex appeal that seemed to be exuded even in her photos. Even now it seems as if the Playboy Playmates that model for Hugh Hefner’s magazine are just skinnier knockoffs of the late beauty with their (most times overly) dyed platinum tresses, obvious lip injections, and sizable implants. The main difference is Marilyn didn’t only have better curves, but she actually had talent as well.

As any fan of Marilyn Monroe, both of her movies and of the persona she fed the public, I’m both leery and excited when I hear of a Monroe biopic. I’m excited because I want to see if there’s going to be some unknown detail revealed or an actress that truly embodies the late actress’s spirit, or even more--a script that truly makes the story of her life shine. But I’m leery because I know that in this day and age of bad remakes and even more terrible films with bigger budgets that come out back to back, looking forward to a good Monroe biopic is pretty futile. So when the movie My Week With Marilyn came out, with Oscar buzz to boot, I genuinely got excited because I thought this was it! This was the movie I’d been waiting for!

I was so wrong…

I hadn’t seen much of anything Michelle Williams had done aside from Halloween: 20 Years Later (I’ve never seen one episode of Dawson’s Creek), but in my opinion, she was pretty good in that film by itself. From seeing her in that role I could imagine her playing a feisty girl next door or even a shy one, but after hearing she was the lead in MWWM the only question I wanted answered was: But can she actually pull off SEXY? And even better, could she pull of playing Marilyn Monroe? I had no clue, but I was eager to find out.

I got my copy of the movie after waiting a few weeks for it to be delivered from Netflix, got my popcorn ready, and it arrived on a Saturday afternoon so I had every intention of watching it that Saturday night. Things couldn’t have been more perfect…until the opening scene of the movie. My heart dropped instantly.

As Williams obviously lip synced (I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it was poorly done), I was embarrassed for her and the director because the heavily padding she adorned was not only apparent, but it was absolutely hideous. I don’t expect every director to ask their stars to gain weight for a particular role, nor do I expect every actress to be willing to put their bodies through that kind of stress, but I also don’t expect them to do a job half done the way they did with this film. Did it have a small budget? They couldn’t add a little bit of prosthetics to her frame instead of making a trip to what looks like the “fake bottom half” section of Fredrick’s of Hollywood? It looks as if they didn’t even make an effort. If that opening number was meant to grab the audience’s attention and pull them in making them believe it was Marilyn, it did a poor job.

Still, I watched on. After all, this was supposed to be one man’s story from his point of view, not necessarily one hundred percent about Marilyn, so I tried to reset myself, keep my judgments at bay, and go into the rest of the film fresh. Only to be disappointed the further I went along. Not only was it absolutely boring, but all it did was recount every story we’ve heard about her throughout the years. From what I took, this man could’ve simply read along with the tabloids at the time, subsequently read through a few biographies of hers and wrote himself into what played out on the screen.

And the script? Watered down, bad, just plain awful. The guy claims he fell in love with her, but Williams didn’t convince me that the Marilyn we saw in that movie was all that gravitating. Her acting was fine, she did okay, but she wasn’t “Marilyn”. Forget the character that we saw as Marilyn, but the Marilyn written in that movie was drab and boring…and all Williams did was throw in a few giggles almost to remind her of who she was trying to imitate. The lighting on the set was poor, the set designs were void of color, and all the movie depicted was a mish mash of reenacted scenes where supposedly Marilyn Monroe forgot her lines and annoyed everyone on set at the time. I’ll admit that if anything, Williams had that part down--she was even beginning to annoy the crap out of me.

This shouldn’t have even attempted to have been about Marilyn Monroe. This shouldn’t have been a movie. And the fact that it was praised so much and given so many award nominations shows that Hollywood is in a downward spiral. It wasn’t all bad, and if you knew nothing about Marilyn Monroe you may even enjoy it, but I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this film to any one of her die hard fans. It doesn’t cheapen her legacy because this movie did nothing to really give us an idea about who she was really except a sniveling whiny twit that stumbled through life, and Hollywood, haphazardly. For a woman who, regardless of how she died or how it’s been told of how she was in her last days, exuded so much life--whether those smiles were real or not--this movie lacked every essence that was Marilyn.

Watch at your own risk.


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