Blonde

Blonde

sound and fury… signifying nothing

I’m gonna talk a lot about this movie but— just so I don’t waste your time like this movie wasted mine: it fucking sucks

don’t even bother— even if you’re curious— even if you just wanna be a part of the discourse— even if you actually wanted to see it: just don’t even fucking bother because I promise you it’s just not worth it

BLONDE is an awful movie that has nothing to say

with that outta the way— that’s kind of a crazy thing to say— since I was excited when it first got announced

I’m a fan of Andrew Dominik’s previous successes— it’s been a while since I’ve seen ‘em— but I remember loving both THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD and KILLING THEM SOFTLY when I saw ‘em and I’m pretty sure I’d still love ‘em today— and I’m super interested in checking out his documentaries on Nick Cave someday— but after this who even fuckin’ knows anymore— ‘cause here’s the thing— these are hyperspecific movies that feel perfectly attuned to what I could only describe as Dominik’s “wheelhouse”

BLONDE from inception alone is so outside of that wheelhouse— and while I often commend filmmakers who step outside their comfort zones— even if the final product isn’t a success— this movie is exactly what happens when just about every single aspect of a movie goes wrong

like— when Netflix bitches about giving “too much creative control” to actually good passion projects like THE IRISHMAN or MARRIAGE STORY: they can now exclusively refer to BLONDE

I’m gonna get the few positives I have outta the way now— ‘cause believe me I’ve only got a few— and then I’m just gonna go wherever I want flinging shit at the walls to see what sticks

hey!

just like this movie!

it’s gorgeously shot by Chayse Irvin, movingly scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and some of the stylistic editing choices are good

… yep

that’s it

what?

were you expecting more?

nope

that’s all I’ve gotta say

and now with all that outta the way

I swear this thing was doomed right from the start

the opening scene of the movie is shockingly bad— easily one of the worst parts of the movie that had me to the point of laughing— not at all helped by Julianne Nicholson giving what has to be the worst performance of 2022— like I don’t know if it’s the actor or the character or the direction or what— but her entire performance is comically, insultingly bad and it’s one that immediately sets the movie off stumbling on the wrong foot

it’s not helped by so many of the actors here— trying as hard as they can— just don’t have a good enough script to crank out satisfying performances

everything is explicitly spelled out to you— whether it’s de Armas narrating, characters screaming, or both— with just about anyone prominent who’s based on a real person acting like a cartoonish Wikipedia page (like how Charlie Chaplin Jr. can’t stop talking about how he’s Charlie Chaplin’s son and how hard it is to be Charlie Chaplin’s son)— with some trying their damndest but struggling to get out alive (like Bobby Cannavale as Joe DiMaggio who starts out ok but climaxes in one of the most hilariously mishandled scenes in the film)— and only one giving what I’d call a truly great performance— that being Adrien Brody as Arthur Miller— who’s so damn good at giving this character so much more depth than Dominik clearly wrote for him that he’s not only the best character— but also the arc focusing on him and Marilyn’s marriage is easily the most consistently well-executed in the entire film

now— I already know what you’re saying: “what about Ana de Armas?”

and I didn’t bring her up here ‘cause

well

Ana de Armas’s performance is… ok

look— I’m not gonna call it bad— if there’s one thing that’s obvious in this performance it’s that de Armas is trying— she’s trying her absolutely hardest— and…

that’s… great

really good for her

I promise that I would never disrespect the effort she puts into this role— she flawlessly embodies Marilyn’s mannerisms, she worked with a dialect coach for a year, and a lotta assholes already gave her shit for her casting alone— which I completely stand against

I’m all for actors of color playing historically white characters— not only do I think it keeps us grounded as viewers in a Brechtian way— but it also opens up more opportunities for everybody so that we’re not just telling the same white stories with the same white people over and over again— if an actor fits the part— let ‘em have a crack at it— and for what it’s worth— de Armas absolutely embodies the part physically

it’s just her fuckin’ performance

look look look just hear me out

Ana de Armas just isn’t that great of an actress for me— I always love seeing her in movies— and she shouldn’t change for anybody— especially not me

but she just isn’t strong enough of a performer for this role— her whole performance just sounds like somebody doing an ok Marilyn Monroe impression and— even for a movie going for a possibly deliberate somewhat distancing of Marilyn— it just didn’t do it for me— even if you just completely view it as a performance— like “not Marilyn Monroe but Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe”— her performance as a whole just wasn’t great for me

if anything— Ana’s best for me here when she has no dialogue— she’s phenomenal at conveying so much through her tearful expressions alone— and there are plenty of moments in this when she really shines— but I’m far from saying that her performance saves this movie or anything even a little

and of course it’s not just her— like I said earlier— just about every aspect of this thing falls apart

other than a few select instances the constantly changing colors and aspect ratios were pointless, the scattershot structure is interesting but it’s never done with intention and it’s a lot more straightforward than people are saying, and it overall just doesn’t have enough purpose to justify how long it takes to get through it

we watch hours of Marilyn getting abused, insulted, discredited, raped— oftentimes before we get any moments of grace— before building up to an absolute “whatever” of an ending that’s just like

“Marilyn’s life sucked!”

all for what?

and that’s my biggest problem with BLONDE

Andrew Dominik has absolutely nothing to say about Marilyn Monroe

he made a movie about Marilyn Monroe— or at least a fictionalization of her— but the Marilyn depicted here is a character— plain and simple— no matter how she looks, feels, is performed by Ana de Armas— this isn’t Marilyn Monroe— it’s a fabrication— and other than just letting Dominik projects whatever he wants to onto her (unironically playing into the exact same misogyny of not giving Marilyn her own agency that he tries to criticize)— he does this intentionally for a lotta reasons

whether it’s because the original source material more deliberately paints the story as a fictional approximation while any subsequent adaptations strive to shout “it’s Marilyn!” in your face (I haven’t read the book by Joyce Carol Oate and I don’t intend to ‘cause she’s a fuckin’ cunt that doesn’t deserve my time)

or whether it’s the fact that Dominik has time and time again proven that he apparently doesn’t actually give a single fuckin’ shit about the real Marilyn— time and time again in interviews deflecting criticism and saying how much he hates her movies and slutshaming her while simultaneously always referring to how he’s infinitely more fascinated in the “idea” of her

as much as it pains me to say it— these are things that could’ve been explored— how idolizing celebrities simultaneously raises them above us all at the cost our real understanding of them as people— look no further than other stylized “biopics” like I’M NOT THERE, CAPONE, or even this year’s ELVIS— all of which use the concept of celebrity identity to tell unique stories without ever feeling like they’re taking advantage of their subjects

“now hold up”— I hear you say— “everyone you just listed was a guy: guys that didn’t go through nearly the shit that Marilyn did”

and you’re absolutely right— to do a film about Marilyn Monroe— even if it’s a fictionalized take that wishes to cover the darkest moments of her life (both real and imagined)— would take an extreme degree of care: a level of care that just simply does not exist in this movie for all the reasons I described and more that are so baked into the core of whatever this film’s trying to say that they’re inseparable

because Dominik isn’t here to provide some kinda insight on what Marilyn’s exploitation meant to her or about us

it’s telling you “it’s bad Marilyn got exploited”

that’s it

it’s exploitation for pure exploitation sake

and I don’t even mean in the sense that a lotta people have been swept up into critiquing any and all media about Marilyn as exploitative— both before and after the film’s release— whether they’ve actually watched it or not

no I just literally mean that it’s pointless

like— Dominik crafts all of these scenes of Marilyn experiencing heartbreaking personal tragedy— being abused by everyone around her to the point of breaking

and… that’s it

he doesn’t have anything to say about existing exploitation, he literally makes up imaginary exploitation

and it’s like… what is the fucking point to all of this?

he’s not saying anything!

I’ve seen a lotta people compare this to David Lynch’s masterpiece TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME— one of my favorite films ever made— a comparison that initially had me interested— but now that I’ve seen BLONDE— I can only interpret it as an unabashed insult to one of the most empathetic movies ever made: an empathy that is sorely lacking from anything here

it might be controversial to say— but I do genuinely believe that there can still be a point to telling stories about real-life tragedies— Marilyn’s and more— it’s a topic that I’ve been contemplating a lot lately with the arguments around this, the rise of true crime, and just what even is the point to telling these stories

but that’s just it

purpose

I believe that we can talk about the horrors— real and imagined— that people went through— we just have to do it with intention

understanding

purpose

BLONDE doesn’t work because it’s everything Marilyn Monroe wasn’t

bad, hollow, and not worth remembering

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