Contender: ‘My Week with Marilyn’

The Contenders 2011

Arguably one of the most worshipful biopics about an actor to date, “My Week With Marilyn” recalls the period in Marilyn Monroe’s career when she filmed “The Prince and the Showgirl” at Pinewood Studios outside of London, with co-star Laurence Olivier doubling as director.

In a way, the film is as much about the contrast between the American-styled Method acting, as fitfully practiced by Monroe, and the classically trained Brits who hailed from the London stage, as it is a romantic remembrance of things past based on a memoir by Colin Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne).

Two-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams plays Monroe with the requisite combination of fragility, insecurity and sexual self-awareness. She adds credibility to the risky feat of portraying a screen icon by singing her own musical numbers, even if die-hard Monroe fans would take issue with her ability to approximate the real Marilyn’s luminous screen presence, which is undeniable in the 1957 film.

Kenneth Branagh, himself a four-time Oscar finalist, physically and vocally transforms himself into the imperious Olivier — much in the way that Christian McKay inhabited the larger-than-life title character in “Me and Orson Welles” (2008) — even down to Olivier’s thin-lipped scowl. Oscar winner Judi Dench also makes a vivid impression as another revered Dame, the actress Sybil Thorndike.

Release date: Nov. 23
The Weinstein Co.
Read the Variety review

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