September 27, 2022

The Pitch: This isn’t the Marilyn Monroe you recognize — not likely. To be clear, the doomed determine on the heart of Andrew Dominik‘s Blonde (based mostly on the Pulitzer Prize finalist novel by Joyce Carol Oates) is a fictionalized model of the beloved star and popular culture icon, one which picks out the innate tragedy of her too-short life and makes use of it as a vivid, if inelegant, treatise on the consumptive nature of Hollywood celeb.

Right here, Monroe (performed by Ana de Armas as an grownup, Lily Fisher as just a little woman) is fated for anguish from her earliest years — when she was Norma Jeane Mortenson. Her mom (a brittle, but domineering Julianne Nicholson) is institutionalized not lengthy after attempting to drown her, and he or she’s despatched to an orphanage with little however the dream of assembly her absent father, whom she’s instructed is a mysterious Hollywood bigwig.

It’s that drive, Dominik and Oates’ novel argues, that drives her to Hollywood, the place she’s given a horrifying inauguration into the studio system by a barely-seen Darryl F. Zanuck (David Warshofsky). She turns into “Marilyn Monroe,” a bottle-blonde bombshell who shortly turns into America’s sweetheart and the apple of many males’s eye.

Her relationships are suspect, whether or not it’s the comforting, if taboo, throuple she enters with two sons of stars — Xavier Samuels’ Charlie Chaplin Jr. and Evan Williams’ Edward G. Robinson Jr. — or her distant, alienating marriages to Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale) and Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody). And all through, she pinballs from one distress to a different as the ocean of flashbulbs and the carnivorous starvation of the American public (to not point out a number of psychological well being and substance abuse points) threaten to swallow her complete.

Blonde (Netflix)

Gents Pervert Blondes: Very like the Oates novel earlier than it, Dominik’s model of Blonde comes full with its personal myriad controversies. Firstly is the NC-17 score, which right here manifests in depictions of Marilyn in varied states of undress, struggling one gasp-inducing indignity after one other (together with multiple depiction of rape, and at the very least two abortions — every of which is at the very least partly rendered by the angle of the fetus). This can be a movie that desires to plunge its viewers headfirst into the abject horror of (their conception of) Marilyn’s life, and hardly lets up for almost three hours.

It’s a grueling, brutal watch, and your tolerance for such inhumanity will closely coloration the way you view Blonde. Dominik, who’s made among the most progressive, eerily dreamlike movies of the previous few years (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, This A lot I Know To Be True), takes a equally nightmarish strategy to Oates’ materials.

Lemonade cinematographer Chayse Irvin crafts a number of startling, unforgettable photos in his slavish recreation of a few of Monroe’s most iconic movie roles and picture shoots and the nightmare logic by which he earmarks Marilyn’s most haunting real-life traumas. Black and white turns to handheld, which turns to 35mm Technicolor glam, again to 4:3 claustrophobia. Second by second, it’s incessantly astonishing (thanks partly to an arresting and hypnotic rating courtesy of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis).

However as lovingly rendered as these terrors are, that very same aesthetic sheen makes all of them the extra horrifying to behold. Blonde‘s main drawback is that it does to Marilyn what it wags its finger on the males round her for doing: It treats her primarily as an aesthetic object, a sacrificial lamb on which we will challenge all our sophisticated emotions about present enterprise, misogyny, rape tradition, home abuse, psychological well being, and Marilyn Monroe herself. That dreamy distance Dominik instills within the cinematography, route, and Adam Robinson’s hazy modifying appears to be like neat, to the purpose the place it detracts from the determine it claims to eulogize.

Blonde Review Netflix Marilyn Monroe

Blonde (Netflix)

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