By Lisa Schwarzbaum
November 30, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST
Laurie Sparham
type
  • Movie
Genre

Colin Clark, a lad from a posh, highbrow British family, was 23 years old in 1956 when, from the way he tells it, his life peaked: He worked as a low-level production assistant on The Prince and the Showgirl, a forgettable movie directed by Laurence Olivier. Sir Laurence also starred, but the real attraction was Hollywood megastar Marilyn Monroe as the showgirl half of the equation. Monroe, recently wed to playwright Arthur Miller, was trying to establish herself as a serious actress. She was also a sad, insecure mess. Clark, apparently, became her friend and on-set confidant. For a week. Years later he squeezed not one but two memoirs out of the brief encounter. The second book — in which Clark more or less claims that he understood MM better than anyone else on the set — is the basis of My Week With Marilyn.

The ”my” in the title points to everything crassly self-regarding in this small, manufactured showbiz drama: Who cares about his week? But the ”Marilyn” signals what’s worth attending to: Michelle Williams plays Monroe, and she’s a wonder. Working opposite a suitably florid Kenneth Branagh as that high thespian Sir Larry, a platinum, sultry Williams knows exactly how to throw the switch that turns on MM’s movie-star incandescence, then flick it off to reveal the vulnerable young woman in the dark. As for Colin (Eddie Redmayne)? He gapes in slack-jawed admiration. B-

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