I'm not sure how accurate "My Week with Marilyn" is; but as a character study, it's absolutely fascinating.
Michelle Williams is sensational as Marilyn Monroe in this film about her 1956 stint in London filming "The Prince and the Showgirl" with Laurence Olivier.
It doesn't matter that "My Week" is slow and unevenly paced; or that few have seen the movie it's about; or that today's youth know next to nothing about the blonde bombshell who was once the world's most famous actress.
In this film publicity image released by The Weinstein Company, Michelle Williams portrays Marilyn Monroe in a scene from “My Week with Marilyn.” The film was nominated Dec. 15, 2011, for a Golden Globe award for best comedy or musical film.
What matters is that in this film, Monroe suddenly reappears as if by magic: the radiant, overpowering beauty; the fragility and uncertainty; the eagerness and earnestness - and that potent mix of naivete and sex appeal that Marilyn alone seemed able to exude.
The film is based on the diaries of Colin Clark, who worked on Olivier's crew during the shooting of "Showgirl."
In the hands of Williams and screenwriter Adrian Hodges, Marilyn is a gorgeous and talented woman who commands attention the moment she enters any room; she's flighty, fickle, usually late and often filled with infectious, carefree joy.
At the same time, she's desperately unhappy, sometimes doped up and always hopelessly in need of love and approval - especially from top-tier actors like Olivier, his wife (Vivien Leigh) and Dame Sybil Thorndyke, here given royal treatment by Dame Judi Dench.
The film's claim to greatness arrives near the end, when Olivier - skillfully played by Kenneth Branagh - insists that Monroe's deep-seated fear and lack of confidence were probably what made her a great actress.
Everyone who knew her wished to cure her of these pains and terrors; yet without them, she wouldn't have been Marilyn Monroe.
"My Week" is loaded with terrific performances, particularly Eddie Redmayne's work as Clark, who becomes Marilyn's confidant and quickly falls under her spell.
Also solid: Julia Ormond as Leigh, Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller (Marilyn's husband) and Dominic Cooper as photographer Milton Greene.
But among these minor roles, I liked Emma Watson best of all.
Familiar to millions as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, Watson here plays Lucy, a wardrobe girl who catches Clark's eye but is quickly thrown over as Marilyn grows more and more dependent on her young assistant.
Fetching, understated, cynical but not jaded, Watson's Lucy provides a moral and emotional grounding for the film, as we realize that a girl like this would be much better for Clark than the luminous, unstable goddess who can't seem to make up her mind about anything.
"My Week" is beautifully photographed and features a winning soundtrack of period tunes capped off by Alexandre Desplat's haunting new "Marilyn" piano theme.
And Williams does her own singing.
She certainly deserves the Oscar nom that's bound to come her way this year; and this engaging film deserves more than the empty theater my wife and I sat in Monday night.
Catch it soon, before it leaves town.