To this day, Marilyn Monroe continues to be one of the most tragic and mesmerizing characters in the landscape of American film. Was she a little girl lost? Was she a manipulative mastermind or a cagey siren? A bipolar drug addict? Well, truth be told this film does very little to answer those questions, or more aptly put, it answers them in the affirmative.
In 1956, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) flew to London to star opposite Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) in The Prince and the Showgirl. Desperate to escape the narrow expectations of privileged life, a young Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), earns a job as third assistant director, a.k.a. gopher, on the set. Almost immediately problems emerge. The coddled Marilyn is hours late to the set, leaving Olivier and and co-star Dame Sybil Thorndike (Judi Dench) standing around waiting in full costume. Meanwhile, Marilyn’s brand-new marriage to playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) is already unraveling, and young Colin seems to be the only person around who can comfort, if not stabilize, the star.
The acting, as you might guess, is spectacular. Branagh and Dench both deserve Oscar consideration, but, much like with the actual Marilyn Monroe, their performances are eclipsed by Williams. This is the Best Actress Oscar performance of the last five years. I’m not even sure they should nominate anyone else—even Glenn Close who was clearing a spot on her mantel is nervous. She is absolutely brilliant and the film is well worth seeing for her performance alone.
It's a 9.