Blonde is nothing like I expected. I knew it is based on a fiction book about Marilyn Monroe's life, so I didn't think it would play out like a classic biopic. I guess, I expected a more extreme version of Spencer, but I was still way off.

Before I get into anything else, let me get one of my biggest pet peeves in contemporary movies out of the way. The use of the Academy ratio. I believe it's almost never a choice purely made for artistic reasons, but a proclamation by a director that they are making "serious ART". Hence my first thought is never about which creative intentions a filmmaker may have had for shooting in 1.37:1, but "Go fuck yourself, you pretentious wanker". Also if you need seven different aspect ratios to tell a story, you're a fucking hack. And if you feel seven different aspect ratios would actually add anything worthwhile to a story, you're an even bigger fucking hack.

That said, I wish this was the only issue I had with Blonde. It's been a long time since I've been this conflicted about a film. I admire Andrew Dominik's bold approach. Exploring the dark side of fame and being a woman in a time and industry that was deeply misogynistic, are themes worth exploring and Blonde does that successfully. Until it doesn't and becomes the very thing it's criticizing. Dominik didn't stop at blurring the line between exploration and exploitation, as he should've. Instead he went full Mel Gibson and ended up jerking off to the agony and misery in Norma Jeane Baker's life. And her tits. The NC-17 rating is still utterly ridiculous, of course. Another body of work that Dominik's film frequently gets compared to is that of David Lynch. While I agree there are elements which could be labeled as "Lynchian", Lynch never made anything this transparent in his entire career.

Ana de Armas delivers a true tour de force of a performance. Alas it is just as impressive as it is one-note. Save for the beginning of her relationship with Adrien Brody's character, her Marilyn Monroe is a tortured soul from the very start. The script never so much as hints at moments of true joy or happiness in her life. That's because - like DiCaprio in The Revenant - she is tasked with playing a plot device, not a character. Quentin Tarantino used Sharon Tate with similar intentions in Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood, but his approach came from a place of admiration, whereas Blonde feels like Andrew Dominik couldn't give any less of a fuck about the person whose life he used to build this story on.

I don't have a set opinion on Blonde yet. I liked watching it in the sense that it was never not interesting and the film has definitely some strong elements like the performances, the excellent lighting, the costumes and at nearly three hours it never drags, but I'm not sure if it works they way it was supposed to.

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