I’m guessing that the way to evaluate Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn is not so much to judge her on whether or not she lives up to the Monroe legend, but whether she delivers a good performance or not. This probably goes doubly for Meryl Streep in Iron Lady, and, after seeing it I can say with no shred of doubt, Streep succeeds beautifully. The only baggage she carries is how people might feel about Thatcher. Such is not the case for Williams portraying Monroe. People already love Monroe. Like Cate Blanchett winning for playing Academy darling Katharine Hepburn, Williams plays a beloved icon.
Here is what Ebert said:
The success of “My Week With Marilyn” centers on the success of Michelle Williams in embodying the role. With the blond hair, the red lipstick and the camera angles, she looks something like Monroe, although she’s more petite. What she has is the quality that was most appealing: She makes you want to hug her, not have sex with her. Monroe wasn’t bold in her sexuality, not like her contemporaries Jane Russell or Brigitte Bardot. She held it tremulously in her grasp, as if not knowing how to set it down without damaging it.
The New Yorker’s David Denby:
The flesh doesn’t have the incredible palpability that drove everyone mad, but, yes, Michelle Williams can play Marilyn Monroe. In “My Week with Marilyn,” Williams makes the star come alive. She has Monroe’s walk, the easy, swivelling neck, the face that responds to everything like a flower swaying in the breeze. Most important, she has the sexual sweetness and the hurt, lost look that shifts, in a flash, into resistance and tears.
Follow the reviews on Metacritic.