Written by Markus Robinson
Adapted from the Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name, “Blonde” is the fictionalized retelling of the personal life of Hollywood icon Norma Jeane aka Marylin Monroe (Ana de Armas). Depicting her as someone who aspires to be a serious actress, but is physically taken advantage of by every person she comes into contact with.
The acting here is good. Yes, de Armas has an accent that she tries to mask behind a breathy Monroe inspired delivery, but she puts forth a solid effort; as does every actor in this. But as she is in every scene, I’ll focus on her when I proclaim how painful it was to watch how little support she received throughout from director Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly). It’s not much of a stretch to liken watching this nearly three-hour movie to watching de Armas drown on-screen in slow motion.
Dominik’s depiction of the life of the infamous “blonde bombshell” is too experimental and surreal for its own good. Some of the film looks like literal screen tests. And while Dominik may believe that filming the entire movie this way serves a purpose, as he attempts to show a world through the eyes of someone whose cinematic life and actual life blur to the point of incoherence, it results in something confusing and awkward and disconnected in its best moments and wildly exploitative in its worst.
“Blonde” is an NC-17 film that depicts the life of an abused individual. So, one would think the subject matter would have been handled with tact. Well, what we get is something in between a stage play and an actual movie, with little to no soundtrack to speak of, and scenes that go on for far too long, containing the random edits of someone just learning how to use Microsoft PowerPoint. It’s simply hard not to feel bad for these actors (especially de Armas). Actors who put themselves out there in super vulnerable positions, as their director seemingly abandons them in order to create the most voyeuristic viewing experience of 2022.
The second half does work better to create a more palatable, plot driven experience. That said, it does contain the most gratuitous and preachy scenes in the film, so…there is that.
Final Thought: Andrew Dominik is a good director, but “Blonde” isn’t it. “Blonde” is an uncomfortable watch for all the wrong reasons. A bloated mess of film, containing random acts of surrealism, French New Wave, pornography, horror and found footage, Dominik wants to have it all and give it to us all at once, and it’s beyond jarring. Instead of giving us a movie about loneliness as felt by someone violently losing their autonomy, “Blonde” will forever will go down as the movie where Marylin Monroe was humiliated for nearly three hours.
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