Blonde ★★★★

Oh heck, I’m sticking my neck out here.

Proving to be a monolithic project, taking nearly a decade to get off the ground, Andrew Dominik’s ‘anti-biopic’ about Marilyn Monroe, based on the equally controversial fictionalised novel by Joyce Carol Oates, has arrived, with Netflix pretty unwisely dubbing it their big Awards darling. Whether through ignorance or just complete lack of awareness (note this came out the same week as Ryan Murphy’s Jeffery Dahmer miniseries, inspiring equal distaste), it seems the tide has really taken against Blonde, admittedly with fault of Dominik’s own brash mouth.

Which is both strange and a shame, as Blonde really isn’t a story about Marilyn Monroe the cultural figure itself, but instead a story about Hollywood not only cannibalising those who enter it’s jaw and fall for it’s allure, but it’s continued, unremitting, salvaging thirst to feed on itself once consumed. Much has been made by the admittedly unsubtle opening act, where a young Norma Jeane getting driven into a Hollywood engulfed in flames by her drunk mother in about of psychosis. It bluntly sets the scene for scorched earth take on the American dream factory, but there’s a more telling brief moment later on where Ana De Armes’ Marilyn (or is it Jeane) looks directly into the lens and firmly states “what business of it if yours, my life?”.

It’s a piercing moment, that for me, put the entire film into perspective. A genuinely cruel practical joke on the audience. For a solid two hours we’ve been subjected to this fictitious account of a person pulled apart into two, if not more, identities, all in one person, in hopes of finding cathartic understanding within the tragedy. Blonde offers no such relief, there’s no audience unifying Bohemian Rhapsody Band Aid performance, or a tearful retaliation which is required to heal from the drama resolutely. It’s a harrowing, demoralising descent into a nightmare, curiously packaged and peddled to gormless masses to consume continuously because of the icon herself still sells to this day. Even the people who are salivating in anger towards Blonde are tearing down, ripping and swallowing whole on the person long gone, only Blonde is a film to recognise we’ve been doing it for decades and yet to learn. Dominik continue to implement iconic photos and iconography into the very framework of the film’s cinematic language knowing damn well it’ll strike a vivid nerve amongst viewers lifting the sheet up and gaping viciousness and vacuous nature lying beneath. 

Whilst the film both suffers from both an unwieldiness in it’s nature and a sense of spending too much time fermenting before rolling in front of the camera (the talking fetus stuff is pretty abundantly hoaky even if Dominik’s aim is real distaste). I’d sooner take something challenging like this over a standard Hollywood biopic that tidily brings in a persons life into a routine redemption arc and completely mitigates real trauma and personal issues into popcorn entertainment.

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