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'A' for effort, but decidedly lackluster
on March 30, 2012
First off, I tip my hat to Michelle Williams. She gave a valiant effort in trying to pull off an icon, but she only got it 50% right. What she DID nail was Marilyn's emotions: vulnerablility, insecurity, brokeness, and need to be loved. She painted a beautiful picture of wounded woman. Where she missed the mark big-time was in not nailing the charisma, sex appeal, bombshell MOVIE STAR quality that men were captivated by and women wanted to attain. Sorry, but Ms. Wiliams, as good of an actress as she is, simply lacks the glamour, punch and va-va-voom flair of an old Hollywood starlet. This was like casting Anne Hathaway to play Elizabeth Taylor - just wouldn't work. When playing someone famous, simply being a good actor won't do - you have to have at least *some* of the essence of the person being emulated. Marilyn was lost in her internal drama a lot of the time, but she knew how turn it on and sell the showgirl image for the cameras. Williams seemed to just be growing through the motions and looked painfully uncomfortable in any scene where Marilyn had to be "on". You get the sense that she's a painfully shy/quiet person and couldn't turn up the personality enough notches to be believable as a 50's movie star. This is where finding an actress who had a background in musical theater would have made a world of difference. [No one knows how to "sell it" better than a Broadway actress!].
The poor casting continued with Julia Ormond [laughably] as Vivien Leigh. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING about Ormond's looks and performance remotely resembled the icon america came to know and love as Scarlett O'Hara.
The only saving grace acting-wise is Kenneth Branaugh who nailed Sir Lawrence Oliver down to the very last crisply-accentuated syllable. Well done! Dougray Scott was pretty good as Arthur Miller, but [sadly] was not in many scenes.
Performances aside, the movie was slow, predictable, dull and felt inauthentic.