Take a closer look at the life of Marilyn Monroe through an unsual lens in Netflix's Blonde.
Written and directed by Andrew Dominik, the film is a fictionalized take on the life and career of late actress Marilyn Monroe. Blonde stitches together a tapestry of events from Marilyn’s life, beginning with her abusive childhood with an alcoholic mother to a series of encounters with men who were outright abusive or moderately exploitative.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinions, and contains spoilers.
Blonde review: A fantasia of fame that turns into a hellscape
Ana de Armas' Blonde saw late actress Marilyn Monroe in a slightly different light. Everyone knows that the actress was an icon and somewhat of a s*x symbol back in the 50s, but what they did not know was how she became the "Marilyn Monroe." The blonde bombshell surely had troubles of her own, but this Netflix film does not do justice to her or her achievements.
The film, shot by cinematographer Chayse Irvin, is a treat for the eye, from its juxtapositions to its colorization. Blonde is no less than a fever dream from the very beginning, but it's the plot that abuses and exploits the late actress all over again, as if all the other renditions and adaptations weren't enough.
Not for the faint-hearted
We are all aware of Marilyn's tragic death and the film surely does do somewhat of a justified build up to a too-short life. The movie settles itself into a paradox- it condemns the cruelty of the icon's life but it also seems to take delight in it. It is, however, not ideal for the faint-hearted.
Based on a fictional novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde and its writing is impeccable, but even after that, you will want to turn your eyes away when it gets too much. From forced abortions to acts of violence, be it from her mother or one of her husbands, it's just disheartening to see.
Actuals and factuals
However, on the plus point, fans will see recreations of several photos of Marilyn, which will make them well up and miss the superstar. Certain rumors and acts were also addressed in Blonde, like her longstanding affair with President Kennedy and her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, which might help them understand her relationships with the men in her life.
The film has its own versions of Marilyn's famous films and songs like, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend. However, it missed out on recreating the infamous Happy Birthday Mr. President video, which would've been interesting to see.
A constant cloud over Marilyn, or Norma Jean in this case, was her father's absence. When she was young, as per the film, she painted a certain picture of her father in her head and waited longingly to meet him. This absence and desperation to be reunited with a father she never even met reflected a lot on her relationships as well as her mental health.
An exploration of the idea
There's a reason Blonde was rated NC-17 and yes, it's all the nudity and gore one would see in it. Sure, it's not pools of blood, but certain things that probably never occurred in the first place, should've never made it to the script. However, it should be understood that Blonde is an exploration of the idea of Marilyn Monroe and is as much of a biopic as Elvis.
The Netflix film is consistently inventive as it toys with both tone and form, nearing an overwhelming and dreary end. As for the stunning actress who portrayed Marilyn, Ana de Armas gives her all in every single moment. She is captivating, startling and a spitting image of Marilyn.
The perfect choice and show-stealer
Armas was the perfect choice for the film, as it not only gave her the opportunity to shine as a lead but also tell her viewers to pay closer attention to her acting skills. Just like Marilyn, she does the girlish, breathy voice even when her Cuban accent overpowers at certain moments.
Although Adrien Brody had a very short role in the film, he made sure his presence was known. The actor took no time to soak in the role of Arthur Miller with his "darling" and playwright smartness.
Writer and director Andrew Dominik jumped around not just in time but also from high-contrast black and white to different technicolors and aspect ratios. Every sound design and every color palette indicates the confusion of Marilyn's inner state, which makes for a thrilling visual for cinema lovers.
Once again, de Armas captured every essence of the late actress, making this film a must-try after all. Don't forget, the film is a road map of actual and factual events in Marilyn's life.
Stream the dazzling, depressing and fatally incurious Blonde on Netflix.