Plot via IMDB:
From director Andrew Dominik, and based on the bestselling novel by Joyce Carol Oates, ‘Blonde’ boldly reimagines the life of one of Hollywood’s most enduring icons, Marilyn Monroe. From her volatile childhood as Norma Jeane, through her rise to stardom and romantic entanglements, ‘Blonde’ blurs the lines of fact and fiction to explore the widening split between her public and private selves.—Netflix
Blonde, starring Ana de Armas in an Academy Awards performance as Marilyn Monroe, is about as good a film that can be made by a man. The director is Andrew Dominik, who made the male mystique film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Blonde is full of the male theory of Hollywood female personality: everything is about either Daddy or Mommy issues, rising above the abuse of the past, the casting couch, men insulting female intelligence, the slathering fixation of male fans, the punching bag theory of male jealousy of men unable to dominate an independent career minded woman, and that everything would be fine if she just had a baby. The list is long and Dominik uses Blonde’s full 166 minutes to sometimes subtly but mostly clumsily, crudely and heavy hand it into obvious metaphors.
Dominik has just made the latest act of Hollywood cannibalism- where a dead starlets life and myth is eaten down to the bone. The male gaze demands obedience and abuse, the body must be stripped and bruised, fornicated and raped, breasts displayed, the mysterious vagina prodded, operated on and debased. The woman must be sucked dry of happy childhood, motherhood and sexual choice.
The JFK episode of Monroe’s life is reduced to a ten minute blow job in between Cuban missile crisis television updates. The lost and aborted children must pop up in flashbacks drenched in a 2001 Star Child glow. Her earlier career rise feature cheesecake pinups, soft core nudes and a threesome bisexual relationship with Cass Chaplin (Xavier Samuel), Charlie Chaplin’s son.
Blonde is based on the 2000 Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name. In the introduction to the book, the critic Elaine Showalter writes that Oates used Monroe as “an emblem of twentieth-century America.” A woman, Showalter later adds without much conviction, “who was much more than a victim.” Dominik’s Monroe can’t rise above her victim hood. She is powerless, always submitting to the men in her life. Her life is aimless and never her own.
Monroe‘s inner life in Dominik’s hands is bleached dry. Missing is Monroe’s intelligence. She reportedly had a genius IQ. Her wit and comic talent and timing is attributed to luck or her male directors. Her acting ambitions are never explored. She created many corporations to manage her films and yet this business acumen is never mentioned at all.
Interestingly, Bobby Canavale and Adrian Brody as the Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller proxies give committed performances, probably their best in the last five years. They grant Ana de Armas the pathos moments that allows her to give a great, authentic performance within the definition of the Monroe myth.
The famous Seven Year Itch billowing skirt scene displays more than just Monroe’s legs. There is her panties to show, her ass, the leering men watching, Other scenes featuring abortion operations, including a speculum pov shot of the device entering her vagina. There are other times that Dominik’s camera only wants to ascend Monroe’s dress.
Blonde is constantly blurring the Monroe films with her life. Different aspect ratios and both color and black-and-white call attention to her filmography and the same events that parallel her life at the time of their filming. A vigorous sex romp turns into a waterfall, which happens around the time Marilyn makes Niagara.
Dominik ends up reducing Marilyn to the very image — the goddess, the sexpot, the pinup, the commodity — that he also seems to be trying to critique. There’s no there there to his Marilyn, just tears and trauma and sex.
Blonde get a 3 out of 5, or a B.
Directed byAndrew Dominik
Screenplay byAndrew Dominik
CinematographyChayse IrvinEdited byAdam RobinsonMusic by
- September 8, 2022(Venice)
- September 16, 2022(United States)
- September 28, 2022(Netflix)
Running time 166 minutes