Blonde

Blonde ★★

The short version: The thing about being INTENTIONALLY offputting, and I get the desire to lean into being offputting, follow your own muse, stick it to Hollywood, yada yada, but the thing about being intentionally off-putting is that, even if it works, and you've uh, put off the audience, the intended effect is leaving them with their arms folded, scowling at the movie. Or put another way, this took me three days to finish, and it's not simply because it's a long movie.

The slightly longer version: Okay, there's a lot going on here, but at the same time, it's a blunt object of a movie, aggressively hammering its points home. Dominik can really point a camera, sure, for a guy who says that he really doesn't like narrative film, and this is a film that has a LOT of shiny surfaces - HOWEVER, the length of it, and the sheer volume of ideas give it a sense of the kitchen sink that's somewhat self-defeating. (No I'm not talking about the talking baby, or the abortion scene POV - I'm thinking more consistently throughout - okay a couple of other examples--there's a sex scene early on between Norma Jean/Marilyn and her two boyfriends in the throuple she's fallen into that she'll eventually give up (along with baby #1) for the sake of her career, that feels like Dominik has figured some stuff out - it's blurred and stretched and sensuous but not really exploitative, it feels like it captures and expresses in some ways the feeling of being having ones senses overwhelmed, of feeling, even for a moment, that time really is slowing down. It's a pretty remarkable sequence and then the bed that they're on transforms into a waterfall and it turns into a goofy sight gag involving the premiere of Niagara. Tonal whiplash, a movie tripping over itself in the service of technique. Likewise the premiere scene for SOME LIKE IT HOT, where Norma has 'fallen backwards' into Marilyn, and we get the slow creeping shot of the limo pulling up, glamorous unhappy inhabitants inside, sea of flashbulbs and paparazzi outside, telling us everything we need to know wordlessly - but then Marilyn gets out of the limo and onto the red carpet, with Arthur Miller (Adrian Brody) and the camera pans around the screaming faces of the photographers as they're shouting (presumably) for Marilyn to look over here, look over there, etc. And Dominik starts widening their mouths -literally - we get extras whose mouths start yawning incredibly wide in what has to be cgi distortions, lizard people grotesqueries, photographers turning literally inhuman, and......it's goofy as heck. Doesn't add to the terror or unease, but it has the opposite effect, as a lot of the gauntlet of trials that Marilyn goes through (including the talking-to-the-fetus scene) at turning Marilyn Monroe's fictional biography here into something akin to the Perils of Pauline - boiling down her tragedy to a black joke about her daddy issues and half a dozen self-destructive tendencies, connected through her vulnerability. In some ways, Ana De Armas gives a remarkable performance, but something about it really bothered me in the 'creeped out' sense, and I haven't quite put my finger on it yet. Perhaps it's that, while the movie's promotion spent so much time stressing that this was FICTION, this wasn't meant to be the real life story of Marilyn, it feels ......more reductive than reality, raising the question of perhaps why not just do a straight film about Marilyn's life unless you wanted to use her the way this film seemingly does --as a battering ram to make some points about fame and show business, and images being consumed, which is understandable, but the same points have been made in other, less unpleasant movies.

The score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is nice though - I saw some people say that it felt like a real attempt to copy Angelo Badalamenti's work, but it didn't feel like Angelo at all, to me. Very much Cave + Ellis. It might grow on me if I give it a chance. Don't think the movie will.

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