Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- It’s all there: the whispery voice, the hourglass figure, the curly platinum-blond hair and the seductive blue eyes.
Michelle Williams does a splendid physical impersonation of Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn,” based on the memoir of a young movie gofer who chaperoned the legendary sex symbol around the English countryside while she was filming “The Prince and the Showgirl” with Laurence Olivier in 1956.
Williams also probes the fragile psyche of the woman who spent her childhood shuttling among relatives, friends and foster homes because her mentally unstable mom was unable to care for her. (She never knew her father, whose identity remains unclear.)
Too bad Simon Curtis’s movie -- a coming-of-age tale about a naive 23-year-old Oxford graduate (Eddie Redmayne) who bonds with Monroe on his first movie set -- doesn’t meet Williams’s high standard.
The film meanders and covers too much familiar territory, such as Monroe’s habitual tardiness, emotional swings and reliance on her acting coach (Zoe Wanamaker). They all exacerbated her strained relationship with Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), a classically trained traditionalist who had little use for method acting or performers who forgot their lines.
Judi Dench, Emma Watson and Derek Jacobi lead a strong supporting cast, but “Marilyn” is worth seeing just for Williams.
“My Week With Marilyn,” from the Weinstein Co., opens tomorrow across the U.S. Rating: **1/2
Woody Harrelson stars in “Rampart” as Dave Brown, a renegade Los Angeles cop who makes Dirty Harry look like Sergeant Joe Friday.
Brown plots to rob a high-stakes card game, is caught on tape beating a suspect and plants a gun to cover up a shooting. His nickname is “Date Rape,” an unsubtle reference to suspicions that he turned vigilante and killed a serial rapist.
Bad cop, great performance.
“Rampart” was directed and co-written (with crime author James Ellroy) by Oren Moverman, who gave Harrelson another meaty part as an alcoholic Army officer in his previous film, “The Messenger.”
Harrelson is even better here as a cop with serious domestic and professional problems.
He lives uncomfortably with two ex-wives who happen to be sisters (Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon) and has a tenuous relationship with his two young daughters. At work, he’s the target of an internal investigation in a precinct racked by a corruption scandal.
With his shiny bald dome and ever-present sunglasses, Harrelson is both menacing and pathetic -- a tortured soul who masks his pain with booze and bravado.
The strong supporting cast includes Ned Beatty, Ice Cube, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi and, most notably, Ben Foster as a homeless, disabled veteran. Harrelson is the one to remember, though, especially at Oscar time.
“Rampart,” from Millennium Entertainment, opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles for a one-week Oscar qualifying run. It will have a wider release on Jan. 27. Rating: ***1/2
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor No stars Worthless
(Rick Warner is the movie critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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