“Blonde”, another Marilyn Monroe-installment in what now seems like the cinematic biographies of the actor, is finally out of Netflix. Director Andrew Dominik and the gorgeous Ana de Armas come together to create a dragged, exaggerated tale of the cruel world both harming and humanizing the mighty Marilyn Monroe. The film is based on the biographical fiction book of the same name, by Joyce Carol Oates, and uses it to presumably seek deeper truths about the life of the beautiful and daunting actor.
The film begins by taking us to the earlier life of Monroe, when she was the young Norma Jeane, played by Lily Fisher, lives alone with her mother (Julianne Nicholson) who’s slowly descending into madness. The mother-daughter scenes are haunting to say no less. Julianne Nicholson is mind boggling and terrifying both at the same time. Whilst the absence of her father, and Monroe’s everlasting longing for him, life is not safe with her mother. When the woman finally has a total breakdown Norma Jeane is sent to an orphanage. The movie flashes forward to the adult Marilyn and the cruelty on screen and in the character’s life also takes a step up. It is horrifying especially to watch insanity and crime in a biopic as most of it is true and undeniable.
The story unfolds with Monroe’s life tangling with that of the many famous icons that the real-life actor had happened to cross paths with. Depicted with clarity and perfection, the maker of Blonde does his best. Blonde casts the supporting crew very well while choosing Bobby Cannavale as Joe DiMaggio, Xavier Samuel, Garret Dillahunt, Caspar Phillipson and Adrien Brody among many more. Shot with brilliance and technical correctness, “Blonde” is a film as beautiful as its protagonist.
“Blonde” does take liberties as per the many critics and historians that have remarked so. It is in this film that we perceive something that’s often said about Marilyn but seldom understood –that the greatest character she ever created was Marilyn Monroe. Ana de Armes makes the audience understand how alarmingly true it is. What we’re seeing in “Blonde” is the story of a woman who was so damaged as a child and then yet again repeatedly as an adult too that while being a figure of teasing enticement to the world at large, she grew up by refusing to allow herself to grow up. The story does tell us the basics of how Marilyn wasn’t naturally blonde and she wasn’t the character trait she most often played on the big screen. It is reiterated in more ways than one how Marilyn was just a vessel with trauma glorified otherwise with makeup and fame. It is a story of depression of the famous, of the royal, of the best. Blonde, in the most haunting ways, tries to be more horror than biographical fiction.
The director is very precise in what kind of movie he wants to create while making this intense, haunting experience for the viewers to fathom the life that Monroe lived and the world that lived around her. Assisted by excellent cinematography, his work shines beyond the screen. A good biography indeed invites the audience to experience, from the inside out, who the subject really was; and the actor does no less to help Dominik create it. With great support from the makeup and costume department, she becomes Marilyn Monroe. She is flawless as the character she plays, although the film isn’t. The writing of this film is heavily biased towards victimising a star, showing everything that is wrong with her. Now fictional media can of course do that, but in my personal opinion, from what we know about the megastar, there was more to her than just the wrongdoings. The songs are too many and too loud for the already grim story. Although the music choices sometimes work, it feels born more out of contrivance and obligation than effortless. The story does focus inordinately on Monroe alone which makes the almost three-hour film feel stretched beyond necessary. Keep in mind the film holds trigger warnings.