Blonde ★★

There’s much to appreciate about a film that so violently overturns biopic conventions, choosing in this case to fill in the circumstances surrounding the iconic images of the world’s first super-starlet. Marilyn here is a woman ostensibly in search of a father, but who is really seeking permission to embrace her varied and often conflicting impulses (sexuality, domesticity, creativity). If this were just another cautionary tale about women in Hollywood, it would be perfectly fine.

But besides its faithful recreations of iconic imagery, you might forget you’re watching a movie about Marilyn Monroe, a character in her own right who captivated audiences for a decade and left her own indelible impact on the craft of performance. Almost no time is spent exploring the work she left us, her achievements, and instead she is portrayed, disappointingly, the way her characters were often written—vacuous, non-agential, sex objects. This overlooks the calculated protest embedded in those performances (starting with the adoption of her stage name), which simultaneously titillate and critique, revealing a woman subverting her own iconography from within the system that created it.

To put it bluntly, Domink sees Marilyn as a victim, just another casualty of men’s lust and relative social power. But no answer is given to why we remain obsessed with her, in particular. And I think the answer is obvious to anyone who’s ever seen one of her films—to this day, she is just so incredibly magnetic on screen (capable, even early in her career, of stealing scenes from even the most seasoned of actors—see All About Eve, for instance). I think that’s why the best moment of Blonde is a recreation of the “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. We are so lucky these moments are preserved in perpetuity, so why not just watch them instead?

I am happy. I've been happy all my life. 

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