We've finally reached the date when we can watch the highly publicized, NC-17 film Blonde, starring Ana de Armas as Marlyn Monroe, at home on Netflix.
There have been several movies that look back at the life of the infamous American actress, but none quite like what we see from Andrew Dominik’s fictionalized biopic (for better or worse), based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates.
Blonde, running almost three hours long, goes back to Monroe’s volatile upbringing as Norma Jeane, right through to her very public persona as an adult, in a story that looks at the disparity between her public and private life.
If you’re watching this movie in an attempt to learn more about Monroe, this isn’t the film for you. It’s more of a depiction of the concept of who she was, displayed in a visual style that feels like you're hallucinating and walking through the star’s life.
Blonde begins in 1933, introducing us to a young Norma Jeane and her mother, who almost killed her daughter in a bathtub. Monroe’s mother was actually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and institutionalized in 1934, and the star was moved between different orphanages and foster homes as a child.
We then move into Monroe's adult life, where de Armas takes on her role, but her childhood trauma still follows her.
Yes, de Armas' accent does waver, but the beauty of her performance shines in the actor's body language and embodiment of Monroe. Her work in Blonde is haunting and de Armas is really the singular light that pushes forward a story that’s overall difficult to sink your teeth into.
That’s largely the case because, while the film sets out to stress the impact of Monroe's childhood trauma throughout her life, you get the sense that, that trauma is her entire identity.
With several scenes depicting Monroe being abused, objectified and exploited, we don't get enough opportunities to really dig into the complexity and depth of Monroe as a person, as a dynamic human being. We're mostly just trapped in misery and sex without any real depiction of her ambition and intellect that contributed to her rise to fame.
Of course, a biopic, even a fictional biopic, certainly doesn't have to touch on every facet of its subject's life, but with its lengthy runtime, it's hard to really connect to a protagonist who is only defined by her suffering, even as de Armas tries to bring as much life to the character as possible.
The story of Monroe's life is certainly upsetting, sad and warrants critical examination of misogyny and objectification of women, but what Blonde makes very is clear is that we're all still very complicit in the exploitation of this public figure.
As more people stream Blonde on Netflix, the movie continues to be incredibly divisive, being called "disgusting" and "distasteful" on social media.
#BlondeNetflix is distasteful. Even if it is a fictionalized story, there can be some care put towards the film. There is this emotional detachment from Marilyn Monroe that makes this such a dark and graphic film. It’s actually disturbing how exploitative this is. pic.twitter.com/Mk6fWHvUZi
— manda 🍂 (@amxndareviews) September 21, 2022
Marilyn Monroe was by no means a victim. She was a champion for civil rights in the 1950s. She walked off a set when a male actor was paid more than her. She named her abusers in Hollywood. She created an icon that will forever be a part of our cultural history. #BlondeNetflix pic.twitter.com/hWsKeCRU1W
— Jasmina Lilic (@jasminalilic) September 28, 2022
#BlondeNetflix is almost 3 hours of trauma sadistic voyeurism + porn. It defiles Marilyn Monroe’s memory and it’s a baseless character assassination. I have never seen such a bad movie with such a disgusting intention from the makers 🤮
— Ginie Colombo 🇫🇷🇦🇺🏳️🌈 3x💉✍🏼🎨 (@GinieColombo) September 28, 2022
Reading the #BlondeNetflix thread and people again just missing the point. Has anyone bothered reading the Joyce Carol Oates book? The film is fairly faithful to the book. It is an adaptation of that book. If you view this as fiction it is a truly haunting piece of fiction.
— Jack (@JackCox) September 28, 2022