The flashing of lights introduces Andrew Dominiks Blonde, which is pretty appropriate.

The flashing of lights introduces Andrew Dominiks Blonde, which is pretty appropriate.

The flashing of bulbs serves as an appropriate opening to Andrew Dominik's Blonde. At the centre of it all is her, Marilyn Monroe (played by Ana de Armas), striking her most famous pose as a gust of wind blows up her white dress. In a series of brief, twinkling moments, we see a rush of images: cameras flashing, spotlights whirring to life, men roaring with excitement (or anger; sometimes it's hard to tell the difference). A film portraying a fictitious version of Marilyn Monroe's life would make sense for its opening to place the audience squarely in the environment and surroundings of a movie star. However, if all attention is directed at de Armas' Marilyn, Blonde's beginning sequences will be lost.

Blonde is not just about recreating legendary moments, nor is it just about the construction of Monroe's biggest career highlights, as the rest of Dominik's daring, imperfect film demonstrates. Instead, it's about exposure—more specifically, the act of exposing yourself for the sake of art, fame, or love—and how the world frequently responds to such blatant vulnerability. In the case of Blonde, it is demonstrated how a world of men used Monroe's gullibility in an effort to manage her reputation and minimise her skill.

Blonde does not always succeed in making that particular sin right. Unfortunately, there are times when Dominik seems to be actively contributing to the decades-long oversexualization and infantilization of Monroe, which aims to reduce her to the status of a helpless sexpot. However, there are also times when Blonde feels like the most kind-hearted fictional portrayal of Monroe to date, one that wants nothing more than to respect her not only as a legendary movie star but also as a fearless and talented artist.not the typical biopic
In Blonde, Ana de Armas beams while sporting a flowing white outfit.
The controversial 2000 book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, 2022 Blonde on Netflix, does not attempt to present the real account of Marilyn Monroe's life. Instead, the movie offers an impressionistic image of how Norma Jeane Mortenson—the person who later rose to fame as Marilyn Monroe—was manipulated and mistreated by those who were supposed to be her protectors and allies. The film's villains are numerous and diverse, including Marilyn's controlling and emotionally unstable mother (Julianne Nicholson), the retired baseball player who became her second husband (Bobby Cannavale), and ultimately the free world's leader himself (Caspar Phillipson).

Although almost all of the characters in the movie are based on real-life figures from Monroe's life, at times, their portrayals are wildly different from truth. It's crucial to make that distinction up front because, for some audiences, the movie's choice to portray Monroe's life as potentially more horrific than it actually was may be perceived as being too much to ask. Others, including me, may find that the film's fabrications simply serve to make the terrible and joyful facts of Monroe's life and legacy even more piercing. To its credit, the movie also doesn't try to pass as a realistic biopic.

Blonde, which clocks in at a whopping 166 minutes, floats through its story with a slow pace and editorial approach that aggressively defies any sort of conventional narrative framework. When you watch it, it doesn't feel like a normal three-act narrative; rather, it's more like a never-ending montage that only periodically stops to painstakingly recreate famous pictures from Monroe's career. Blonde frequently has a confusing impact, but there are also sequences where it's difficult to determine whether you're watching de Armas' portrayal of Monroe or stock footage of the real woman.

A technical success

Blonde on Netflix features Ana de Armas portraying Marilyn Monroe lounging on a couch.
Dominik, who has always been drawn to visual experimentation, employs nearly every aspect ratio imaginable in Blonde. Netflix, 2022 Because of this, the movie frequently alternates between stunning black-and-white and technicolour shots, as well as between huge widescreen 16:9 pictures and smaller 4:3 compositions. These visual inventions may seem arbitrary, as if their entire purpose is to further confuse and distance you from reality. Other times, they seem deliberate and calculated.

Take a look at how the movie's aspect ratio varies on the evening that Marilyn is supposed to see her long-lost father, for example. In order to better convey the emotional significance Marilyn has attached to the event, the movie temporarily switches to widescreen when she enters her hotel room. Once she discovers that Cannavale's former ballplayer is waiting for her instead of her father, you'll notice how the scene's scale gradually, visually, shrinks. Observe further how Cannavale's hand progressively envelops de Armas' neck as he declares his love for her in a moment of subtle but precise physical acting, unintentionally foreshadowing their relationship's toxic and destructive future.

Working with editor Adam Robinson and cinematographer Chayse Irvin, Dominik also gives Blonde some of the most cleverly created surreal visuals you'll see in a movie this year. Blonde contains a scene in particular where de Armas' Norma Jeane is seen grabbing the edge of a bed in a state of ecstasy. The bedsheets run over the edge of the bed when she moves, and they slowly and inexplicably change into Niagara Falls. Dominik then takes use of this opportunity to switch from a mid-afternoon fling to a trailer for the 1953 noir masterpiece Niagara. The ethereal, otherworldly score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, which is playing over all of these scenes, not only ranks as one of the best of the year but also elevates Blonde's overwhelmingly sorrowful tone to cosmic heights.

Outstanding lead performance

Blonde's central figure, though, is Ana de Armas, whose portrayal of Marilyn Monroe feels especially well-suited to the movie in which she appears. While the actress shares a striking resemblance to Monroe throughout Blonde, there is an ongoing, frequently eerie discord between de Armas and the character she is portraying.

Part of that can be attributed to de Armas' authentic Cuban accent, which is audible even when the actress fully imitates Monroe's breathy speech. However, there is also a raw element to de Armas' performance that not only makes it stand out in Blonde's many emotionally taxing passages but also adds a sense of sadness and wrath to the scenes where she is reenacting Monroe's roles in movies like Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

De Armas outshines almost everyone who appears beside her in Blonde thanks to her performance. However, Adrien Brody leaves a deep, understated impression as the smitten Arthur Miller, the renowned playwright who eventually married Marilyn Monroe three times. Blonde's most emotionally vibrant, if not wholly pleasant, segment is permeated by the palpable, amorous warmth Brody and de Armas together produce.

Although de Armas gives her all in her portrayal of Marilyn, the movie frequently falls short of her calibre and asks too much of her. Blonde, especially in its second half, features far too many moments that call for de Armas to be either topless or completely n*ked, a reality that threatens to further legitimise the over-sexualization that has long blighted Monroe's legacy. Dominik also had de Armas' Monroe repeatedly refer to every man in her life as "daddy" in order to convey her inner longing and loneliness, which is a choice that could have been bearable had it been applied a little more sparingly.

Less is better.

De Armas' propensity to refer to Dominik as "daddy" is ultimately a sign of Dominik's own incapacity to discern the circumstances in which less would, in fact, be more. The same is true of the several occasions that Dominik's camera enters Monroe's womb to capture CGI representations of her unborn children conversing with her (yes, literally). The movie also contains a few quite obvious musical cues, such when "Bye Bye Baby" starts playing right after de Armas' Monroe has been forced to get an abortion she didn't want.

These errors are only a few of the flaws that Blonde has, making it less successful tonally and narratively than, say, Dominik's 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. They aren't, however, terrible enough to declare Blonde an entirely futile undertaking. Blonde, a movie that feels less like an absurd Hollywood fantasy and more like a nightmare slide into a black hole, does, in fact, nonetheless depict a touching story of loneliness, remorse, and emotional yearning.

Netflix's official trailer for "BLONDE"

When the movie moves its emphasis away from Monroe's status as a sex symbol and more toward her accomplishments as a performer and artist, it has that effect. Monroe portrays both a young woman in Blonde who is looking for the father figure she never had and an intelligent, gifted artist who would love nothing more than to have the same amount of support as she does. It should be obvious which of those parts of Blonde's Marilyn proves to be more appealing, but that doesn't stop the movie's ideas about popularity — both the price and requirements of it — from ringing loud and clear despite its rather uneven depiction of her legacy.

Blonde's most successful moments ultimately don't come from its many tributes to Marilyn Monroe's real-life career. Instead, the quietest scenes—like one that appears late in the movie and follows de Armas as she feverishly searches her home for a tip only to discover that her delivery person has long since left—end up making the biggest impressions. When de Armas realises there is no one on the other side of the fence, notice how her hand continues to hang in the air with the five dollars still in her palm. Realizing too late that you haven't found somebody who will work as hard for you as you do for them is a certain kind of heartbreak.

Blonde is now showing at a few cinemas. On September 28, it makes its Netflix debut.

editors' suggestions
Blonde does not always succeed in making that particular sin right. Unfortunately, there are times when Dominik seems to be actively contributing to the decades-long over-s*xualization and infantilization of Monroe, which aims to reduce her to the status of a helpless sexpot. However, there are also times when Blonde feels like the most kind-hearted fictional portrayal of Monroe to date, one that wants nothing more than to respect her not only as a legendary movie star but also as a fearless and talented artist.
The film Blonde, which is based on the controversial book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates from 2000, does not try to present the real tale of Marilyn Monroe's life. Instead, the movie offers an impressionistic image of how Norma Jeane Mortenson—the person who later rose to fame as Marilyn Monroe—was manipulated and mistreated by those who were supposed to be her protectors and allies. The film's villains are numerous and diverse, including Marilyn's controlling and emotionally unstable mother (Julianne Nicholson), the retired baseball player who became her second husband (Bobby Cannavale), and ultimately the free world's leader himself (Caspar Phillipson).


Although almost all of the characters in the movie are based on real-life figures from Monroe's life, at times, their portrayals are wildly different from truth. It's crucial to make that distinction up front because, for some audiences, the movie's choice to portray Monroe's life as potentially more horrific than it actually was may be perceived as being too much to ask. Others, including me, may find that the film's fabrications simply serve to make the terrible and joyful facts of Monroe's life and legacy even more piercing. To its credit, the movie also doesn't try to pass as a realistic biopic.

Blonde, which clocks in at a whopping 166 minutes, floats through its story with a slow pace and editorial approach that aggressively defies any sort of conventional narrative framework. When you watch it, it doesn't feel like a normal three-act narrative; rather, it's more like a never-ending montage that only periodically stops to painstakingly recreate famous pictures from Monroe's career. Blonde frequently has a confusing impact, but there are also sequences where it's difficult to determine whether you're watching de Armas' portrayal of Monroe or stock footage of the real woman.
In addition, Dominik, who has always been drawn to visual experimentation, employs nearly every aspect ratio conceivable in Blonde. Because of this, the movie frequently alternates between stunning black-and-white and technicolour shots, as well as between huge widescreen 16:9 pictures and smaller 4:3 compositions. These visual inventions may seem arbitrary, as if their entire purpose is to further confuse and distance you from reality. Other times, they seem deliberate and calculated.

Take a look at how the movie's aspect ratio varies on the evening that Marilyn is supposed to see her long-lost father, for example. In order to better convey the emotional significance Marilyn has attached to the event, the movie temporarily switches to widescreen when she enters her hotel room. Once she discovers that Cannavale's former ballplayer is waiting for her instead of her father, you'll notice how the scene's scale gradually, visually, shrinks. Observe further how Cannavale's hand progressively envelops de Armas' neck as he declares his love for her in a moment of subtle but precise physical acting, unintentionally foreshadowing their relationship's toxic and destructive future.

Working with editor Adam Robinson and cinematographer Chayse Irvin, Dominik also gives Blonde some of the most cleverly created surreal visuals you'll see in a movie this year. Blonde contains a scene in particular where de Armas' Norma Jeane is seen grabbing the edge of a bed in a state of ecstasy. The bedsheets run over the edge of the bed when she moves, and they slowly and inexplicably change into Niagara Falls. Dominik then takes use of this opportunity to switch from a mid-afternoon fling to a trailer for the 1953 noir masterpiece Niagara. The ethereal, otherworldly score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, which is playing over all of these scenes, not only ranks as one of the best of the year but also elevates Blonde's overwhelmingly sorrowful tone to cosmic heights.
Blonde's central figure, though, is Ana de Armas, whose portrayal of Marilyn Monroe feels especially well-suited to the movie in which she appears. While the actress shares a striking resemblance to Monroe throughout Blonde, there is an ongoing, frequently eerie discord between de Armas and the character she is portraying.

Part of that can be attributed to de Armas' authentic Cuban accent, which is audible even when the actress fully imitates Monroe's breathy speech. However, there is also a raw element to de Armas' performance that not only makes it stand out in Blonde's many emotionally taxing passages but also adds a sense of sadness and wrath to the scenes where she is reenacting Monroe's roles in movies like Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

De Armas outshines almost everyone who appears beside her in Blonde thanks to her performance. However, Adrien Brody leaves a deep, understated impression as the smitten Arthur Miller, the renowned playwright who eventually married Marilyn Monroe three times. Blonde's most emotionally vibrant, if not wholly pleasant, segment is permeated by the palpable, amorous warmth Brody and de Armas together produce.
Although de Armas gives her all in her portrayal of Marilyn, the movie frequently falls short of her calibre and asks too much of her. Blonde, especially in its second half, features far too many moments that call for de Armas to be either topless or completely n*ked, a reality that threatens to further legitimise the over-sexualization that has long blighted Monroe's legacy. Dominik also had de Armas' Monroe repeatedly refer to every man in her life as "daddy" in order to convey her inner longing and loneliness, which is a choice that could have been bearable had it been applied a little more sparingly.
De Armas' propensity to refer to Dominik as "daddy" is ultimately a sign of Dominik's own incapacity to discern the circumstances in which less would, in fact, be more. The same is true of the several occasions that Dominik's camera enters Monroe's womb to capture CGI representations of her unborn children conversing with her (yes, literally). The movie also contains a few quite obvious musical cues, such when "Bye Bye Baby" starts playing right after de Armas' Monroe has been forced to get an abortion she didn't want.

These errors are only a few of the flaws that Blonde has, making it less successful tonally and narratively than, say, Dominik's 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. They aren't, however, terrible enough to declare Blonde an entirely futile undertaking. Blonde, a movie that feels less like an absurd Hollywood fantasy and more like a nightmare slide into a black hole, does, in fact, nonetheless depict a touching story of loneliness, remorse, and emotional yearning.
When the movie moves its emphasis away from Monroe's status as a sex symbol and more toward her accomplishments as a performer and artist, it has that effect. Monroe portrays both a young woman in Blonde who is looking for the father figure she never had and an intelligent, gifted artist who would love nothing more than to have the same amount of support as she does. It should be obvious which of those parts of Blonde's Marilyn proves to be more appealing, but that doesn't stop the movie's ideas about popularity — both the price and requirements of it — from ringing loud and clear despite its rather uneven depiction of her legacy.

Blonde's most successful moments ultimately don't come from its many tributes to Marilyn Monroe's real-life career. Instead, the quietest scenes—like one that appears late in the movie and follows de Armas as she feverishly searches her home for a tip only to discover that her delivery person has long since left—end up making the biggest impressions. When de Armas realises there is no one on the other side of the fence, notice how her hand continues to hang in the air with the five dollars still in her palm. Realizing too late that you haven't found somebody who will work as hard for you as you do for them is a certain kind of heartbreak.

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