A review of Andrew Dominik’s Blonde
Ana de Armas’ portrayal of Marilyn Monroe is flawless and yet “Blonde” is a total disaster. Typically, it would seem implausible for someone to do so well in a failed film, but writer-director Andrew Dominik accomplishes that with his Netflix release.
I anticipated entering a movie that honored Marilyn Monroe’s career and perhaps even dove deeply into who Norma Jean was, Marilyn Monroe’s true name. Instead, it felt like I was stuck in a room with someone who just wouldn’t stop crying for three hours. The movie was 13 minutes shy of its three-hour mark and offered nothing but tears and turmoil.
The fact that the film is being marketed as a biopic is one concern I have. Dominik based the movie on Joyce Carol Oates 2000 novel by the same name. The film is based on a fictional account, already flirting with exploitation of Marilyn’s name before it leaves the page. Dominik directs this film as a fast-paced montage, breezing through Marilyn’s life, making it hard for viewers to connect with her. The framework of this story feels like a convinced psychedelic fever dream. It all feels very hollow.
The film tries to tackle a couple of themes. It explores the nature between art and life, personas, and perception. It also has a Freudian component due to Marilyn not having a father figure in her life growing up, so she refers to all her husbands as daddy in the film.
Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe is instructed to cry in this film. A lot. Sometimes its light tears. Sometimes its heavy sobbing culminating as she experiences sexual assault numerous times in the film. And when she is not crying, she is naked or bloody. And in almost every circumstance, she is either a pawn or a victim, a frail angel looking for a father figure to love and protect her.
“Blonde” is a traumatic roller coaster in which the images and cinematography are out of this world. But the film was lacking a storyline. It had no rhythm, no comedic relief, nothing to make this film “a film”. Unfortunately, I think that this movie is the kind that shouldn’t have been made, which is a shame to say. Nonetheless, Andrew Dominik still pursued making a film that prioritized style over substance.