Blonde Movie Review: Ana de Armas’ Hellish Turn as Marilyn Monroe Can’t Carry This Objectifying and Exploitive Psychodrama (LatestLY Exclusive)

Blonde Movie Review: The buildup to Blonde has been… interesting to say the least. From the tone-deaf comments of Andrew Dominik and Ana de Armas regarding Marilyn Monroe in their interviews, Blonde barges in with all the subtlety of a curb stomp. Presented as a fictional psychodrama instead of a pure biopic, the movie is more exploitive than anything as it’s so obsessed with tragedy that almost all of it begins to feel redundant. Blonde Review: Critics Praise Ana de Armas’ Portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, Call the Biopic ‘Explicit’ and ‘Infuriating’.

Running for nearly 170 minutes, Blonde is based on the 2000 novel of the same by Joyce Carol Oates that is very much a fictionalised take on the career of Marilyn Monroe. Beginning by showcasing the traumatic journey of one young Norma Jeane Mortenson (Lily Fisher/Ana de Armas), she is seen living with her abusive mother Gladys Pearl Baker (Julianne Nicholson) as she drowns herself in alcohol and blames her daughter for everything that’s wrong in her life.

A Still From Blonde (Photo Credit: Netflix)

After Gladys tries to drown her daughter in the bathtub and suffers a breakdown, she is soon institutionalised and Norma is sent off to an orphanage. With a time-jump, we see a now-adult Marilyn trying to get her start in Hollywood and that’s where this dark and dilapidated tale begins.

Blonde is very much focused on who is Norma Jeane that Marilyn ends up taking a back seat. Ana de Armas is able to provide a tantalising performance as the pain and struggles of Norma are painted with a certain hurt that you’re able to buy her as that icon, even though her Cuban accent leaks out at times.

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Getting completely lost in the glamour of Hollywood, Norma tries to disassociate herself from it as she watches her performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and utters “that’s not me,” and it’s in these scenes that Armas shines a lot. However, there is a lot of backtracking because aside from a handful of moments, Blonde is just torture porn for Marilyn Monroe in the end.

Providing a surface level take for everything wrong in Monroe’s life, watching Blonde felt like going through an eternally dark tunnel with the end nowhere in sight. It hammers you on with so much bleakness that you’re left wondering why even bother with this. Focusing on the sexual and drug abuse faced by Monroe in her life, director Andrew Dominik executes the narrative by getting disturbingly up and close.

A Still From Blonde (Photo Credit: Netflix)

While the inclusion of Xavier Samuel’s turn as Charles Chaplin Jr and his relationship with Monroe is able to bring some levity to this tale, it’s still too less. It feels like there were no restraints on Dominik as he goes completely all out. While a bit of credit has to be given to him in painting some surreal sequences in the same vein as 2021s brilliant Spencer, it’s still all upended with a talking fetus that feels like an abomination. Spencer Movie Review: Kristen Stewart Brings Oscar Brilliance as Princess Diana in This Fable-Like Tale (Sports Grind Entertainment Exclusive).

There is an unnerving sense to it. Watching Marilyn getting raped to earn her first role in a film or seeing her “complicated” relationship with US President John F Kennedy be presented in such a grotesque way, it feels exploitive to the bone. At that point it’s not honouring this icon, but rather feels like an objectified take that is ridden under modern male gaze. It’s not so much the nudity that feels objectified, but how Dominik chooses to approach the tale. There is no enjoyment in Blonde and that retroactively makes you ignore some of its more brilliant technical nuances.

A Still From Blonde (Photo Credit: Netflix)

From and eerie score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to the beautiful and dynamic cinematography by Chayse Irvin, these elements are almost forgotten about. Blonde leaves you exhausted to the point that you won’t notice these brilliant contributions to a morally bankrupt film. Performances of Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody are certain highlights too, yet Blonde doesn’t give them their time to shine as it goes back to throwing Marilyn to the ground for the umpteenth time. Andor Review: Diego Luna’s ‘Rogue One’ Spinoff Series Revels In Providing Refreshing and Intimate Take on the Star Wars Saga! (Sports Grind Entertainment Exclusive).


The Soundtrack and Cinematography


Exploitive and Objectifying

Grotesque in Its Execution

Final Thoughts

“Watched by all and seen by none” is the perfect tagline that can applied to the filmmakers here. An objectified and exploitive film that feels like its ridden with the portrayal of abuse with a male gaze, Blonde is a harrowing watch that will leave you feeling miserable. The film is currently streaming on Netflix.

(The above story first appeared on Sports Grind Entertainment on Sep 28, 2022 05:44 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website

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