Blonde ★½


What was expected to be the grand return of a telented auteur and the true breakthrough of a star in the making ends up being a horrid vanity project that completely jumps over the line separating arthouse and parody. Truly, this misery fest lacks any sort of nuance or texture or skill that made Dominik's previous films so special. While it's far from the graphic and exploitative affair that was being reported out of Venice (probably by people who didn't even watch it!) it is still one overlong, tedious and juvenile masturbatory exercise. It is, in essence, this year's Joker if you were to replace Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy with Mirror and Mulholland Drive.

Ana de Armas whispers, pouts, frowns and cries her way through this miserable slog of a film, butchering an already morbidly stupid script. She's doing some real Acting with a capital A here and trying desparately for that Oscar, but it's all completely monotonous and shallow. She shares the blame with Dominik, who evidently has forgotten how to direct at this point, though admittedly she tries her... best? All of the supporting players are non-entities, immediately fogettable, though remarkably annoying when on-screen.

Cave and Ellis (as much as it pains me to say) provide their worst musical score to date, working almost on autopilot. The ugly isolated piano notes that creep up on so many scenes were so trite and uninspired it made me want to stab my eardrums. The visuals of the film will undoudtedly be the single most praised aspect, but even this left me underwhelmed. With artificial film grain that makes the image constantly noisy, the entire film looks less so like that something that belongs on a big screen and more so like something that belongs at a storefront for a clothes/fashion store. It's of absolutely no surprise that this DoP has almost exclusively been doing music videos and ads.

To play Devil's Advocate, the film is able to generate some half-assed, forced empathy for Norma and her pathos - even if through excessive misery. There are even occasional moments where Dominik's vision and talent shines through (especially in the opening montage and one erotic scene that is filmed in a dream like perspective). But, alas, the splashes of genuine creativity and vision are few and far inbetween and don't make up for the painstaking effort it takes to sit through this overlong and overly-slow sobfest.

It's undeserving of its NC-17 rating and insane controversies (and said controversies were definitely part of a PR campaign), but it is oh so deserving of every criticism concerning how pretentious and unfinished this film is. What a shitshow.

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