Blonde (2022)
September 29, 2022 7:42 AM - Subscribe

A fictionalized chronicle of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe.

Based on Joyce Carol Oates’ book, Andrew Dominik’s film is an explicit exploration of the life of Marilyn Monroe, anchored by Ana de Armas’ transformative performance as the troubled bombshell.

Currently at 49% on Rotten Tomatoes
posted by wabbittwax (8 comments total)
This movie is FRUSTRATING.

Marilyn Monroe only lived 36 years but it was a full life, with tremendous successes and dizzying highs but it also contained devastating lows. This movie is only interested in wallowing in the worst experiences of her life. It is exploitative and joyless. Andrew Dominik gives the impression of a man with big ambitions of auteur excess but with no absolutely no taste.

But Ana de Armas acts the hell out of it. She’s extraordinary. She conveys so much, and she looks so much like Marilyn. She even manages to replicate Marilyn’s speech pattern, effectively hiding her own accent (except in a couple of moments of high emotion). She deserves a much better movie supporting her.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:53 AM on September 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

We started watching this last night and stopped about 30 minutes in when it was apparent they were skipping from misery to misery and glossing over anything in between. I doubt we’ll go back and finish the rest, even for de Armas’s performance.
posted by ejs at 12:46 PM on September 29, 2022

This was a highly interpretive take on Marilyn Monroe's life, not a bio-pic. I think the film effectively underscored that MM didn't get to escape her own trauma by keeping it focused on her supposed experience, not on other people's experience of her. I found the Seven Year Itch scene to be very well crafted. I expected at that point for the film to launch into the usual glorification of MM's billowing skirt, but it was instead totally unsettling and made a comment on Hollywood and the way MM was viewed very effectively. The story is very sad, I agree. The film is beautiful, haunting and heartbreaking. I will be watching it again.
posted by marimeko at 11:21 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have additional thoughts because I’ve been thinking about the movie a lot. If it has any redeeming feature besides the central performance, it may be that it is thought-provoking.

It really bothers me that the narrative hinges on her relationships to men. We start with her mom spinning fantasies about her father. Then jump ahead to her with her agent, and also her threesome with the Juniors, and the pregnancy/abortion story. Almost immediately we meet Joe DiMaggio, but we barely get to see them relate before he’s beating her up and we’re done with him. Then immediately we’re on to Arthur Miller. She is defined by her longing for a father figure for the whole narrative. I don’t buy it. Where is her agency? Who is Norma Jean, really? Why was she even in the entertainment industry? Did she have no ambition? Did she ever celebrate any of her successes? There’s a brief moment where she fights to get paid the same as Jane Russell and that’s the only hint that she had any interest in her career.

It feels shallow, though the stylistic elements give the impression that it’s going for depth. I don’t know whether to blame the director or the source novel but I feel like this end result does nothing to honor Marilyn’s memory, because it never sees her as anything but a victim. I am not an expert on her life but I am certain she was more than this.
posted by wabbittwax at 1:43 PM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I felt like the director was going for something trippy and claustrophobic like Pablo Larrain's Jackie, but this needed a lot more editing. The camera followed Marilyn on her search for her wallet for almost as long as the scene of her blowing JFK, and there's also a talking fetus. That said, Ana de Armas and Lily Fisher (young Norma Jean) were both terrific. I was excited about seeing this, but I gave it a thumbs down in Netflix.
posted by emelenjr at 8:11 PM on October 2, 2022

I'd read all the criticism before watching this so I was very skeptical going in but I found myself captivated throughout till the end. Definitely not a subtle movie, but I was moved to sadness by the end. I wish her life had been a different kind of story and I guess the source material took too many liberties anyway, but I found this deserving of a watch.
posted by bitteschoen at 8:24 AM on October 3, 2022

This movie has many scenes of incredible beauty. Ana de Armas's portrayal of Marilyn is powerful and shows immense skill. She is also absolutely stunning.

But the movie is a totally traumatic watch, and at multiple points I felt like I was watching a horror movie. I can appreciate the irony of positioning the desirable, 'perfect' body of Marilyn Monroe to also be a locus for repeated horror and pain, but I found it horrible to watch.
posted by unicorn chaser at 4:03 AM on October 5, 2022

This feels like a movie where the Rotten Tomatoes scores are almost meaningless--most of the critics say the same things, and most of the low viewer ratings are from people who are mad that a movie about Marilyn Monroe could be depressing.

Ana de Armas's performance is indelible, the movie is often very interesting to look at (although a lot of the best shots were somebody else's first), but Andrew Dominik also seems like he's in way over his head, both as a scriptwriter and as a director, and he isn't doing Joyce Carol Oates' book a lot of favors.

I'll be curious to see how this movie is viewed in five or ten years.
posted by box at 2:42 PM on January 29, 2023

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