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Review Of Blonde: A Bleakly Artistic Biography That Fails To Ignite The Flame

The movie’s already-famous NC-17 rating (available now in theatres and on Netflix starting on September 28) turns out to be a strange misdirection: Blonde pornography is mild, even boring. The actress is portrayed as a demented woman-child with no agency, no joy, and no real allies in the world; she is a doomed butterfly whose only interests are the wheel of fame and our own ravenous voyeurism. This version is far more blatant in terms of exploitation.

A few months later, writer-director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) makes an appearance with his own auteur interpretation of Marilyn Monroe. It is an airless, fragmented, occasionally stunning arthouse collage that spends nearly three hours making an iconic figure into something less than the sum of her parts.

In the biopic industry, what is most likely to become legendary? A fever-dream highlight reel of the singer including Technicolor glitter and sensuous crotch zooms was presented earlier this year in Baz Luhrman’s Elvis.

That isn’t to suggest that all facets of the movie’s star Ana de Armas aren’t brutally exposed; she spends a lot of the movie naked, and many scenes go in directions that have only been explored by OB-GYNs.

She had no chance, according to Dominik. Her mother (Julianne Nicholson of Mare of Easttown) is a rage-filled alcoholic with grandiose delusions who yells obscenities at the daughter she didn’t ask for and occasionally tries to drown her in the bathtub.

Little Norma Jeane has PTSD and an ongoing obsession with the mysterious father she never met when she is taken away. All that she is aware of—or has been told repeatedly—is that he is a prominent figure in the entertainment sector.

In order to get a smash-cut to Marilyn the starlet—dimpled, dazzling, platinum to the root—the remainder of Norma Jeane’s upbringing in foster homes and orphanages is essentially implied and skipped over.

To be fair, Joyce Carol Oates’ compositional style inspired the framework of her impressionistic 2000 novel Dominik. While his version covers Monroe’s entire life in a little under 170 minutes, hers is roughly 750 pages lengthy.

The short, painful marriage to Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale), and the longer but no less disastrous turn to Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody), are both here, painstakingly replicated in some manner; The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes all had historic remakes.

In this scene, John F. Kennedy is portrayed as a callously cruel bully who treats her like cargo. He only appears for a brief moment, just long enough for Marilyn to forcefully punch him in the face in close-up while she berates herself in her head for not choking or puking on the presidential baton.

The majority of blonde is made up of pain-shrouded, far-off glimpses of majesty and splendour. Monroe is a simple girl who wants to better herself through Chekhov and have nice children, and she speaks openly about her goals and aspirations.

However, she typically makes clumsy movements, refers to men who aren’t her father as “Daddy,” and her tears smear film sets and red-carpet premieres. She doesn’t want to play any roles once she gets them, and there are no aspects of being a star that she appreciates; it’s more of a weight to carry from the beginning.

The tale adds more ad hoc tragedies when actual history is insufficient or when she is too close to happiness.

Dominik uses his own cinematic imagination to fill in the blanks, creating a vivid foetus in utero straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey and converting an orgasm into a waterfall that becomes the 1953 noir Niagara.

As the film material switches between creamy, high-contrast black and white and vivid colour, frames shimmer and melt like kaleidoscopic taffy. Despite being overstuffed with biography plotlines, the screenplay rarely tries with coherence or pace.

It’s merely a series of vivid, agonising set pieces, a car accident in slow motion that leads to an inevitable conclusion.

The likeness after she has been molested and bewigged on De Armas, who is breathy and radiant, is astounding, especially when Dominik painstakingly recreates certain films and photo shoots.

Her original Cuban accent, which has been suppressed on purpose, rarely lessens the level of unreality already present on screen, but it is grating.)

The delight Monroe herself brought to millions of people as well as de Armas’s inner light are the two main things the movie misses by portraying Marilyn just as a tragic sex bomb.

Knives Out and No Time to Die were previous works with energy and vitality, but walking wound now just has one note. What is left is mostly empty iconography with a few memorable images, a bombastic curiosity masquerading as high art. Some individuals favour the cold. grade D+


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