Blonde Review: Marilyn Monroe Biopic is boring trauma porn with no clue what he’s trying to say

R: Andreas Dominik. Cast: Ana de Armas, Julianne Nicholson, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale. Certificate 18, 165 minutes

Forget the diamonds. I’ll tell you who’s not a girl’s best friend: Andrew Dominik, the writer and director of Blond, an unforgiving, boring, overlong riff on Marilyn Monroe. Over its long run, the Hollywood star has a lot of fun. She is almost drowned by her mother. Raped at an audition. Forced to have an abortion. Accused of the unborn fetus she plans to abort. Assaulted by a husband she calls “Daddy”. It’s no exaggeration to say that she cries in almost every scene. In a word, if you can’t treat Marilyn Monroe as a grown woman with agency, you don’t fucking deserve to make a nearly three-hour film about her.

but Blond isn’t a bad movie because it’s demeaning, exploitative and misogynistic, even though it is all of those things. It’s bad because it’s bored, happy with itself, and has no idea what it’s trying to say. Based on the 700-page novel by Joyce Carol Oates, which offers a fictionalized version of Monroe’s life, the screenplay features the star saying things like, “I think she’s pretty, but she’s not me” or “I Guess it’s not Norma Jeane, it’s there”. Eventually she says, “F*** Marilyn, she’s not here!” and slams a phone. Revealing. All I could think was, “Old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.” This superficial observation that her constructed persona might have created a sense of depersonalization doesn’t feel insightful or new. You would expect to watch Blond for what it might tell us about Monroe’s life, her legacy, or the culture that is infatuated with her. You won’t find any of this.

The film alternates between scenes in color and black and white, blending real events like their marriages and film roles with fictional ones like a threesome with Charlie Chaplin’s son and Edward G. Robinson Jr. As Monroe, Ana de Armas has an edgy, edgy energy. It’s a deceptively sophisticated portrayal, played by a person who always matters. But she’s held in a place of constant nervousness that’s exhausting to watch, in a performance so demanding that in one scene — a bedroom encounter with a President who’s evidently JFK — she almost has to reach for the camera. Julianne Nicholson is eerily disturbing as Monroe’s mentally ill mother, but as her husbands, Joe Di Maggio and Arthur Miller (here “The Ex-Athlete” and “The Playwright”), Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody have little to do other than engage in Being evil or expressionless inflict more misery on Monroe’s orbit.

Films about the lives of famous people don’t have to stick to conventional biopic storytelling, of course. Some of the best don’t: Pablo Larraíns spencer, gave us an intense, elaborate psychological portrait of Princess Diana through hallucinatory imagined scenes. It made things up to search for a deeper truth, and that’s what it might have felt like to be her. Its star, Kristen Stewart, described it as “a tone poem”. But unfortunately, Blond is just a trauma porn.

If there was one thing I could grasp that I felt the film explored, it was the idea of ​​Monroe as a psychic space, a creation that haunted the real person trying to occupy it. We see her in an acting class, losing control, overwhelmed by the feelings she’s trying to muster for her character. After being read for an audition, one of the watching men explains that it’s “like watching the insane—no technique.” His colleague agrees: “People like that, you can see why they are drawn to acting. Because the actor in his role always knows who he is.” Unable to grasp her public or private self and forge a solid identity, she is lost and vulnerable.

Cass Chaplin (Xavier Samuel), Marilyn (De Armas) and Eddy G. Robinson Jr. (Evan Williams)

(Matt Kennedy/Netflix)

But the psychological pressure of being the most photographed woman in the world is never really applied. Aside from some meticulously choreographed recreations of movie scenes, some unimaginative paparazzi shots, and a few billboards, Monroe’s world feels hermetically sealed. She’s such an isolated character here that we don’t get a sense of her dizzying fame, her influence on the public, or vice versa. Part of the problem is that the film skips from her difficult childhood straight to Monroe as a full-fledged star. We’re not following her career path, or even the introduction of a trait so iconic that the film itself is named after her — the moment she went blonde.

There’s something disingenuous about a film that tries so hard to faithfully recreate Monroe’s exterior while tormenting her insides with no clear ending. Why is this movie so invested in her misery? How is such a shabby film even made anymore? We all end up losing our charm, though Blond never had anything to lose.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/blonde-review-marilyn-monroe-netflix-b2184178.html Blonde Review: Marilyn Monroe Biopic is boring trauma porn with no clue what he’s trying to say

JOE HERNANDEZ

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