Instead of mourning the tragedy of Marilyn Monroe’s death in Blonde, Andrew Dominik revels in her misery. Never does he appear interested in the woman and more just the despair she faces. While Blonde looks fantastic and has a passionate performance from Ana de Armas yet thise can’t save this tasteless, exhausting endeavour that never lets you in.
Let’s just get this out of the way now, Blonde is a hollow failure of a film, tone deaf to the highest degree. This film should be an essential cautionary tale, yet decides that clinging onto that line that this is a fictional biopic title somehow saves it from derision. It doesn’t, not in the slightest. Instead, we have a misstep of a film that tries to shock and awe and instead leaves us numb and restless. Blonde is a film hampered by what it used as its source material. It never stood a chance, but Christ, sometimes this adaptation did not help itself.
Blonde is so obsessed with looking the part that it fails to say anything other than showcase the abuse and exploitation of Monroe. The sole issue of Blonde is one person, and that is its director, Andrew Dominik. A director who thought it was pivotal that we spend over two full minutes with multiple angles and versions of that dress scene in The Seven Year Itch. What should be a moment to show how her fame became immeasurable turns into a drawn-out endeavour. Did that moment need 140 seconds for us to get it? Not at all, but here it is, so sits down and deal with it. So enthused is he in all of these moments that he thinks endlessly repeating these instances for nearly 3 hours makes it impactful. It simply doesn’t; it, in fact, leads to something all the more worrying.
Whether accidental or on purpose, Blonde doesn’t as much comment on the exploitation of Monroe during this time period as confusingly parallel alongside it. Dominik sends his protagonist from one nude scene to another to the point where it honestly felt as if Dominik found an excuse to make a fetish film about Monroe, cast the person who looks most like her and have her naked for an obscene amount of times for only his enjoyment. It could very much be the point of the film, but it is so lazily and amateurishly handled that all notions of respect have flown out the window. There is no cinematography or performance in the world that can save such foolish, misguided direction. Not for one second of this film do we believe that he has an ounce of respect for who she was and what she went through.
Instead, he has made a film of pure self-indulgence, relentless in his desire to make the audience uncomfortable. He has zero interest in what she felt and more of what he likes to think happened in those darker moments of her life. For a film so long, you would imagine there would be time to show moments of her standing up bring the smart, capable person we knew she was. Alas, he just wants to show the pain, she lived, was abused and died. As if those moments in-between meant nothing. We merely have moments of rest and no joy in this film, which would make the Blonde far more affective as a piece. By dragging her through the mud for so long, Blonde becomes a battle that one has little interest in gping through. It could be easy to go into further, more explicit details, but you may have already heard about those scenes, so going on about them here seems like a moot point. The question that keeps coming up in my mind is this, what happened to the filmmaker who made a film where everyone in the James gang was sympathetic? Why did he decide to be so malicious to life of Monroe?
One of the positives of Blonde is Ana de Armas. She deserves so much more, considering the effort she has clearly poured into this film. But unfortunately, she has been robbed of a vehicle to show her strengths as an actress, deprived of the chance to deliver something special. Though if we are being critical, she has a lot of trouble hiding her accent here and does cause a touch of a distraction, nothing on par with everything else going on around the actress. Her performance is sincere and passionate but thoroughly lost in a film that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, a fictionalised pile of bollocks that renders itself and her performance as being utterly pointless.
The other? The work from costume designer Jennifer Johnson who, in fact, probably comes out of the film as the star with the work she has done to recreate so many of the costumes. Her work is faultless; the same goes with the production design from Florencia Martin, who again goes to great lengths to get the little things right, which makes the end result so infuriating. So much was done to get this fictionalised story right that for it to be so poor is an utter travesty.
Blonde could and should have been spectacular, an ode to someone who was exploited yet almost made it out the other side. Instead, we have a film that is frankly disrespectful to the legacy that Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jeane left behind. As if Andrew Dominik couldn’t care less about the person and just wanted to make a film that he was in the mood to do. Without a doubt a horrible film that has you shaking your head throughout. If you can, dodge this, there is nothing of value present.
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