Ugh. Just done watching ‘Blonde’, and despite a stellar performance by Ana De Armas as Marylin Monroe, the 2022 Netflix movie is slow, tedious, and frustrating to watch. It’s a fictionalized account, which the makers claim ‘boldly’ re-imagines Monroe’s life, but their definition of bold is limited to the shallow realms of nudity and sex.
Directed by Andrew Dominik and based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, the film is spread over an ambitious two-hours-forty-six minutes, with several stars making cameos and one is forced to wonder – did nobody see the problems with the script? ‘Blonde’ attempts to showcase how an immensely talented beautiful woman was treated terribly by Hollywood, reduced to a dumb sex bombshell to be milked for money; but this movie too treats its protagonist the exact same way. Ana De Armas’ is so tenderly vulnerable in her portrayal of Monroe, it’s a shame the script couldn’t do justice to either Armas’ talent or Monroe’s memory.
If you are going to fictionalize the life of a cultural icon, why stick to a book that’s twenty years old and not be a little more imaginative? Sure, ‘Blonde’ manages to be a tragic tale about the perils of excessive stardom, especially for a woman actor in an era where men were the only ones who called the shots… but it does nothing to defend Monroe, who is portrayed as a mentally fragile woman looking for her ‘daddy’ in every man. The movie starts with the adorable Lily Fisher playing young Marylin AKA Norma Jeane (her real name), and Julianne Nicholson as her abusive mother Gladys, who weaves tales of a loving but absent father to the young child. Thus begins Norma’s obsession to re-unite with her father, until then, she treats the men in her life as a stand-in for him.
The star’s relationship with famous author Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody fits like a fish in water in this role) gets some screen-time. While in real life, biographers maintain Monroe didn’t listen to her husband and lived like she pleased, the movie never shows her as an assertive woman. She might be upset, angry, throw tantrums, wail, weep, scream, but there’s not a scene where she calmly exerts authority. ‘Blonde’ blatantly fails to capture the evolution of Monroe’s personality. Ana De Armas is baby-faced throughout the runtime, never aging, while the ‘Gentelmen Prefer Blondes’ actor looked a lot more confident, imposing, without the ‘innocent’ streak on her face as her career progressed. The make-up team fails in incorporating those details as the timeline shifts.
Let’s say there wasn’t more to Monroe than an insecure immature young star who was constantly bullied and exploited by those around her. Enough books, movies, documentaries, articles out there have already established that. So, ‘Blonde’ brings nothing new to the table and becomes a long pointless affair in milking the myth of an iconic superstar who died of drug overdose.
It’s a 5/10 from me.
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