Title – Blonde (2022)
Director – Andrew Dominik (Chopper)
Cast – Ana de Armas, Adrian Brody, Bobby Cannvale, Julianne Nicholson
Plot – A fictional examination of the life of famed actress Norma Jeane/Marilyn Monroe (de Armas), told through her eyes and inner thoughts.
“Marilyn Monroe only exists on the screen”
Review by Eddie on 30/09/2022
It would be fascinating to see data from Netflix relating to viewership figures concerning their newest high profile original release Blonde, a film that may be billed as a fictionalised biopic of Marilyn Monroe but is a film that offers up anything but a typical viewing/narrative experience thanks to Australian director Andrew Dominik adapting the seemingly unfilmable novel by author Joyce Carol Oates.
The interest in viewership figures stems from the fact I would suspect there will be a highly low percentage that make it to Blonde’s end credits, for not only is Dominik’s epic near 3 hour film a bum-numbing experience, this NC-17 (a rating that I don’t personally believe was necessary but undoubtedly helped with media attention) is an often tortuous and consistently bleak feature with few brief moments of light in an otherwise dour outing, that suggests the unfortunate life of Norma Jeane was a life devoid of love, laughter and meaning.
When we talk bleak, “daddy” do I mean bleak, Dominik has a track record in this space with his films such as the highly touted Australian dark comedy classic Chopper or the masterful Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford but Blonde is next level, from the moment we begin our journey with the young child who would grow up to be a poster girl for the world’s adoration through to the films beautiful but morbid final stretches, Blonde revels in the misery of its subject matter and through a serious of artistic and narrative endeavours, keeps us feeling uneasy at all moments as we are kept at arms length from a much-explored cultural icon of the likes we are never likely to see again.
With Dominik so hellbent on ensuring Jeane & Monroe’s (with the film making a point that there was two persons at play here) lives appear to be nothing more than avenues to make its host cry, it does beg us to ask the question of what is the point of this whole experience? But despite this coldness and harshness that is ever present there’s still an undeniable artistry and craftsmanship on display here, creating some of the more unforgettable and mesmerising moments on screen this year.
Working with frequent collaborators Nick Cave and Warren Ellis for the films beautiful score, up and coming cinematographer Chayse Irvin for the films often otherworldly framing and the awards contender Ana de Armas for committed leading lady duties, Dominik once more showcases a serious knack for his field of work and one suspects had he been willing to follow a well trodden path of award baiting biopics, Blonde may have been another Netflix Oscar contender in the months soon to come.
One hopes that despite all the controversy surrounding the film and particularly Dominik’s own personal views about his subject matter that the work of de Armas can manage to stand above all this, as while she is sometimes hamstrung by weak scripting choices/dialogue and incessant requests to produce water works, the underrated actress delivers career best work here and her embodiment of such a famed figure should be commended no matter the varied and wild opinions about Blonde itself.
Final Say –
Consider yourself warned, Blonde is not in any way shape or form the Marilyn Monroe biopic you perhaps hoped for with Andrew Dominik’s version of Monroe’s tale one drenched in black, as his untypical yet often stunningly made epic takes no prisoner’s on its bleak journey through trauma, horrors and a life filled with disappointment.
3 waterfalls out of 5