The sad reality that I admitting to here is that I really don't know much about Marilyn Monroe. Here's what I knew before I saw the film. She died of a drug overdose realtively young. She sang happy birthday to JFK in the 60s and supposedly had an affair with him. She seemed really sad. She was a size 16 (in today's movie star world she would be deemed too fat.) And two of her husbands were playwright Arthur Miller and baseball player Joe DiMaggio – two very, very different men.
And she was a huge star. Watching the film you see she was one of the first woman in our culture who just was larger than life. Larger than herself. An icon. Huge. The film shows the toll it takes on the real person living life in the spotlight. It asks the question where does Marilyn the star end and where does Marilyn the woman begin? Are they the same?
The arrival of My Week with Marilyn in theaters as of Thanksgiving gave me the opportunity to see the incomparable Michelle Williams take on a very different role than we are used to see her in of late. Williams has known for her intense dramas like Wendy and Lucy and Blue Valentine. I don't think I am going out on a limb by saying that she is one of the best and most versatile of her generation. She is so good in everything she does, and in My Week With Marilyn she gives another outstanding and very different performance. She gives one of those performances where you can't take your eyes off of her.
The film made me think about this woman who wanted to be accepted as an actress and not just as an icon. That was a really tough sell. The movie shows her trying to figure this out but she gets in her own way. She's got many issues related to her self-esteem and never feeling good enough and she self sabotages. Then there are all the enablers around her who don't help at all even if they think they are helping. Her relationship with Arthur Miller in the movie is not happy, he was a dick to her, and this was when they were newlyweds.
The film inspired me to take a look at her films. I want to see what kind of actress she was. I really appreciate that this film has brought this woman back to the fore for a new generation.
(Full disclosure: I am putting together a screening for the Weinstein company for this film. This review was written and scheduled for posting (but not read) before I became engaged on the film.)