My Week with Marilyn ★★★

Michelle Williams is a great Marilyn. She breathes life into a role that so easily could have seemed like a showy imitation, akin to Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher or Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. In broad strokes, the movie is mostly about Marilyn's two different personae: the glamorous Marilyn Monroe living in the public eye, and the cripplingly shy Norma Jean Baker hiding underneath. If you've ever heard "Candle in the Wind," you already knew that, but Williams is simply a marvel in the part. The film is as good as it is solely because of her. Kenneth Branagh makes for a strong Laurence Olivier--who saw that one coming? /sarcasm--but at its heart, the film is a boringly ordinary affair. Eddie Redmayne plays Colin Clark, who wound up writing two memoirs about his time on the set of Monroe and Olivier's film The Prince and the Showgirl. If he is to be believed, as a fresh-faced 23-year-old, he became Monroe's closest friend on the set, which might have made for an interesting coming-of-age story if the role had been played by anyone with an ounce of charisma. Seriously, I think him and Jeremy Irvine are the same person. Emma Watson pops up as a love interest for Redmayne, but no one decided to give her anything to do. She's totally adorable, though. If you can't tell, this movie would be a lot less worthwhile if Williams wasn't so goddamned great. But she is. She's achingly beautiful, painfully fragile, and completely brilliant. If only the rest of the movie lived up to her.