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The Boston Globe

Arts

Movie Review

Michelle Williams makes ‘My Week With Marilyn’ her own

Michelle Williams shines as Monroe

There’s no nice way to say it: Aside from both women being blondes, Michelle Williams looks nothing like Marilyn Monroe. Her face is wider, her features thicker, her figure less of a bodacious cartoon. This is only by comparison, of course - Williams is one of the lovelier talents of her generation - but because Monroe has been burned onto our cultural retina for so long, because we’re still on a first-name basis with her a half century after her death, comparisons are inevitable and a little unfair. We can buy Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, say, or Meryl Streep as Julia Child, but there’s only one Marilyn.

Here’s the thing, though. For the 99 pleasantly strained minutes of “My Week With Marilyn,’’ Williams convinces us of her Marilyn Monroe. The movie, the first to be directed by longtime British producer Simon Curtis, is about the star’s arrival in London in 1956 to make “The Prince and the Showgirl’’ with director and costar Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). The film’s title couldn’t have been more apt. Olivier was a Knight of the Empire and the reigning rajah of British theater and film. Marilyn was Marilyn - an adorable Hollywood blow-up doll who was easy for 1950s America to drool over and easier still to mock.

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