Watch out Forget the Box because I’m about to reveal something shocking: I’m a white girl, and I like Marilyn Monroe.
Ok, so MAYBE I’m not totally original in my favorite star of yesteryear… but in a world where trashy movie stars come and go, there’s a reason why us cinephiles worship those who manage to transcend time and continue to live onscreen long past their expiration date.
Was Marilyn Monroe the world’s greatest actress? No. She was an unbelievably beautiful starlet who was honest in her desire to be good at her craft. That combination of ego and sincerity, I think, is what makes a great star.
It all began when I saw Some Like it Hot on television in the fifth grade and my fascination with Monroe continues to this day. What is it exactly that I find so intriguing you ask? I love Monroe for blatantly embracing her sexuality when the time was anything but liberal. I love her for one of the same reasons I love Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks; for showing the world that there’s nothing sexier than curves.
After Some Like it Hot I quickly went on to watch every one of her films then moved on to the extensive amount of literature; both pulp fiction and serious intellectual papers have been written about her. When my mother’s best friend gave me a copy of the Joyce Carol Oates fake bio of Monroe entitled Blonde, I was then very excited to watch CBS’s miniseries in 2001 based on the novel.
Blonde was the first movie I’d watch about Marilyn, and God it was awful. While there are plenty of interesting documentaries about Monroe, such as Marilyn Monroe The Final Days, there just hasn’t been an even remotely interesting fiction project about the life of the actress.
When the trailer for My Week with Marilyn first surfaced online in October I was enormously skeptical. I believe my Facebook status update for the day went something like “Hum, I don’t know about this. I love Michelle Williams but she’s too Brooklyn Hipster to play Marilyn Monroe.”
I saw the film recently, and I have to say I was completely wrong about Williams in the role. In my recent battle with FTB colleague Jerry Gabriel I argued that Johnny Depp gave the best performance as Hunter Thompson because he played the legend, not the real man and I think the same argument lies here.
Instead of trying to give a pitch perfect performance, Williams is the only one who seems to makes Monroe her own. The film itself is not perfect, I don’t buy the supposed chemistry between Eddie Redmayne’s character and Monroe for instance, but Williams captures Monroe’s essence so perfectly you go along for the ride.
It’s a strong performance that had deservedly earned Williams a lot of praise. I’ll hold off on declaring it her best yet until I see her in Sarah Polley’s new film Take this Waltz. I do think that without a doubt Williams will get a Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Monroe. Lets hope it’s a long and healthy trend of strong female performances in films to come.