But where does dreaming end and madness begin? Anyway, isn’t all love based on delusion?
Blonde is undoubtedly the most controversial movie of 2022, but my qualms with it go beyond its *gasp* NC-17 rating.
In Marilyn Monroe’s last given interview, she is quoted saying, “please don’t make me look like a joke.” With reviews pouring in, the masses aren’t pleased with the final product that is Blonde.
Let’s get one thing straight about Blonde – it’s not a biography. It’s a fictional novel by Joyce Carol Oates. Netflix described the film as taking “dramatic license with her life,” featuring real historical figures but also “amalgams of people she might have known.”
“Many films about Marilyn Monroe are kind of upbeat and have a lot of music and singing. She’s very beautiful and sweet. This one is probably closer to what she actually experienced,” said Oates. “The last few days of her life were brutal.” via People
And that quote I can stand by. I don’t believe that Norma Jean’s Marilyn Monroe was a truly happy being, and that her daddy issues likely overshadowed her her entire life, as the film constantly harps on.
Director Andrew Dominik said he “did all that research” about Marilyn Monroe “and I used very little of it in the movie.” Lol, okay…let’s begin.
With a 2.5 hour runtime, there’s a lot to digest with what is fact and what is fiction. It’s rated NC-17 for its graphic sexual content and sparked criticism by those who find it exploitative and disrespectful to the actress’ legacy. Sigh. Many scenes of the film were invented, while others are factual (she did marry “ex-athelete” Joe DiMaggio and later married noted playwright Arthur Miller).
Dominik is the starting point of the controversy; a natural foot-in-mouth dude; very reminiscent of Lars von Trier at the Cannes Film Festival promoting Melancholia (if you know you know), but he seems like a more nasty fellow.
Dominik, who also wrote the script for Blonde, previously admitted to not being familiar with Monroe’s filmography prior to adapting the novel on the late icon. Woof.
In an interview with journalist Christina Newland, Dominik asked the question, “Does anyone watch Marilyn Monroe movies?” After reading that, I asked the question, “So why does he want to make a movie about America’s biggest icon if he gives zero fucks?” He continued to talk about doing due diligence to portraying her accurately in this film, and watched, studied, whatever all of her movies.
He also calls Monroe’s famed “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” moment in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” akin to “sisterly advice” to loose women. “‘If you’re gonna fuck, make sure you get paid,’” Dominik mused on the message. “Or is it just romanticized whoredom?” “I’m not concerned with being tasteful.” Clearly, the dude gives not one fuck about his image nor the outcome of the movie…which is tanking day after day with critics and audiences alike.
It seems “horrified” viewers on Netflix are turning off Blonde before letting the credits roll. Many are arguing that it’s “all the misery and none of the greatness” and a “parade of misery” and they’re completely right.
At The New Yorker, Richard Brody described Blonde‘s “relentless torments” as “directorial sadism,” panning it for its “cheap sentiment, brazen tastelessness, and sexual exploitation.”
“Some have argued the movie does a disservice to Monroe by skipping over many aspects of her life that would show her as having more agency and painted a fuller picture of her as a person in favor of focusing only on her suffering. The fact that she founded a production company is not mentioned, for instance.” via The Week
Where the movie begins to lose me is the couple of graphic abortion scenes, but I wasn’t lost on the obvious gratuity of the nature, but more of the…how do I say…Terrance Malick vibes I got from it. She tells the fetus that “you’re not the same baby,” but it responds, “That was me. It’s always me.” Lol, what? THEN, other critics are claiming these scenes have led some to argue the film is pro-life. Here we go with that, which I won’t delve into because it bores me.
Now to my turn to say what I didn’t like about the film. Firstly, misogynistic men (who know nothing of their subject) shouldn’t be making movies about them. Additionally, this felt like an A24-wannabe arthouse project; disjointed and at times sterile. I couldn’t get into it from jumping from color to black and white to talking to fetuses, etc. It just tried too hard for me to be exceptional when it failed at every angle.
On a more positive note, Ana de Armas is Marilyn Monroe. One of the greatest, most dedicated, performances I’ve seen in a long time. Will she receive and Oscar nom? Maybe. But like the controversy surrounding von Trier’s comments and Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia (Dunst didn’t even get a nom), I think the odds may be slimmer than people think.
If you’re looking for a chipper look into Norma Jean’s life, don’t look here. If my review hasn’t said enough, this isn’t for the faint of heart.