Even if “Blonde”, written and directed by Andrew Dominic, offered a sympathetic and privileged view of Marilyn Monroe’s private life, it would have been a cinematic disaster. The film is ridiculously cliched – Monroe’s story as if conveyed through Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.” The character endures an overwhelming streak of relentless torment, which, far from evoking fear and pity, reflects a special kind of directorial sadism. Trying to denounce the suffering of the protagonist, the “blonde” drowns in her. He portrays Monroe as a plaything of her time, her environment, and her destiny, by turning her into the director’s game. The subject of the film is the defamation of Monroe and his artistry by Hollywood studio executives and artists. In order to tell that story, Dominic practically repeats it.
“BlondeAdapted from A novel named after Joyce Carol OatesShe has one idea: that Monroe has been a victim her whole life. Child Norma Jeane Mortenson (played by Lily Fisher) is the victim of her father, who never wanted her; her mother (Julian Nicholson), a mentally ill; From the neighbors who deliver it to an orphanage. As a young woman, she is the victim of paparazzi who take nude pictures of her. As Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas), she was the victim of the head of the studio, Mr. Z (David Warchowski), who raped her and then rewarded her with roles; A client makes her character and forces her to stick with it; Producers and directors who are underpaid and portrayed as sexy and stupid; Of her lovers in the trio, who use her secrets and abuse her. She has been the victim of her husbands during her years of fame: Joe Dimaggio (Bobby Cannavale), who wants her not to work, is deeply jealous, and is physically abused; And the Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody), who vampires her because of his work. I was sexually assaulted by the president John F. Kennedy (Caspar Philipson); I was abused by the Secret Service on his behalf. (The film does not mention Dimaggio or Kennedy but identifies them unambiguously by their traits and roles in Monroe’s life.)
Paparazzi and the press intrude on her private life. Her adoring fans are perverts who demand her sexiness on screen and her grateful adoration in public appearances. They mistake Marilyn Monroe for her real character, even though she considers her a pure product for public consumption, and has nothing to do with her real persona. The film’s iconic moment shows that she looks at a picture of her – of Marilyn Monroe – in a magazine and says, “She’s beautiful, but it’s not me.” However, the movie never comes close to suggesting who the real person really is.
The film presents Marilyn as an excitingly talented actress, long before her experience with Actors Studio, delves into personal experience and emotional memory to deliver performances of shocking intensity. He also points out that Hollywood offers a small outlet for those artworks, and is instead angling her in roles centered around her sex appeal. He presents her as a well-read, thoughtful and insightful actress whose artistic dream and artistic ideals are still theater, and she explains why – in the film’s best scene -. During her first date with DiMaggio, she told him that she wanted to leave Hollywood for New York, to study acting, learn to be a great actress, and do theater (above all, Chekhov), because acting in films is “cut pieces pieces.” She adds, “It’s a jigsaw puzzle, but you’re not the one putting the pieces together.” It is true that acting in films and on stage is very different, and those who are good at one are not necessarily well suited to the other. “Blonde” does not show the difference but only emphasizes it. The film winks and nods only in the general direction of what Marilyn has achieved on stage.
Movies may be “totally cut out,” and Dominic catches some uniquely awful movies on Marilyn’s character. He overlooked what should have been a key moment of theatrical courage, in Marilyn’s first act at the Actors Studio, where she was put on stage to read the lead role in a play for Miller, who watched skeptically, doubting the ability of the Hollywood diva. Perform the complex role to his satisfaction. Instead, she impressed her classmates with astounding Miller’s admiration and tears of emotion. But this performance in itself? It does not appear again.
Nothing to do with Monroe’s real-life politics, including her defiance of the press and studio to marry Miller (who had previously called US Un-American Activities Committee to testify about his past links to the Communist Party), her conversion to Judaism, and her own activism (including against nuclear weapons). There is nothing about the control Monroe had over her career by forming a production company in order to select and develop her own projects; There is nothing about her early enthusiasm for movies or her discovery of supermodels. (The film goes from baby Norma Jeane’s arrival at an orphanage to a quick montage of teenage photos in magazines.) None of her effort to escape poverty and toil, and her earnest and deliberate efforts to advance her career; Not a word about Monroe’s incredibly hard work as an actress, or her obsessive dependence, for seven or eight years, on her acting coach, Natasha Lytes. In short, everything about Monroe’s devotion to her art and interest in her work recedes to the tiniest of margins.
The film insists, through only a few scenes, that Marilyn’s character is an intelligent and insightful actress, yet “Blonde” minimizes scenes in which she expresses sharp thoughts and distinct thoughts. For example, Marilyn, on the way to her disastrous visit to JFK in a hotel room, says that there is nothing sexual in their relationship. But what took place between them in the confrontations before the one in which he attacked her is completely absent. If she has a social life regardless of her relationships with men, be it Kennedy, Dimaggio, Miller, or a pair of lovers – Charlie Chaplin Jr. (Xavier Samuel), Edward J. Robinson Jr (Evan Williams), with whom she appears on set Triple – Dominic is not interested in it.
The problem is not just what Dominic can’t imagine but what he does. He directs as if he defines poetry as the use of ten vague words that three clear words suffice, and then conveys this misconception to the images. In order to approximate a sense of subjectivity, and Marilyn’s mental states, he relies on out-of-focus images (but not to the point that they’re really vague), a soundtrack that immerses voices in watery (but not completely) darkness, slow-motion scenes to emphasize feelings without developing them, a painting She flips back and forth between color, white, and black (her life sometimes seems to her like a movie, do you get it?).
But such flexible approximations are trivial alongside Dominic’s more cheerful and elaborate tricks. When Marilyn becomes pregnant, it’s through one of the most intense sophomore influences I’ve ever seen. She spends an evening outdoors with her two young ones, talking about astrology as she looks up at the starry sky that starts to move and then turns into swaying sperms. Then her fetus appears in the womb, and that fetus returns to the movie over and over again, in CGI’s fetal clumsiness which eventually involves talking to her. Marilyn gets an abortion, in order to work in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”; This is excruciating, as is the post-miscarriage and the last post-miscarriage vaguely suggested. Through all these episodes, the effort is made for vulnerability and subjectivity with rudeness and ruthlessness. Looking up and out, Marilyn’s vagina’s view of miscarriage evokes Dominic’s abuse and abuse of the character’s body. Amid such awkwardness and vulgarity, de Armas’ performance alone, energetic and meticulous, lends the film a modicum of dignity.
The effects and other tricks throughout the movie downplay its apparent import and make its grim doom absurd. For example, when Kennedy comes into Marilyn’s mouth, the TV in his room shows a clip of a missile exploding and shooting (appears to be from the movie “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers”) as a spaceship explodes against the Washington Monument. Marilyn’s lifelong quest for her father culminates in his face – the face of the man her mother called her father – falling into the sky at the moment of her death. When Marilyn songs from her films are clipped to the soundtrack, it’s lyrics that include “daddy” like “Ladies of the Chorus” and “baby” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” You have to hand it to Dominic: he not only outshines ostensibly classic Hollywood models in frank artistic ambition, but also in cheap vibes, rudeness, and sexual exploitation. ♦