what is it with this recent trend in women-focused biopics to pivot on the jokerification — or, better yet, pablo larraínification (patient zero being spencer) — of the female icon whose story no one ever *really* knew? i will cut the latter some slack; it was never this unaware (even when it dumbly frees diana of her own personal nightmare at the end) and, to my surprise, never this boring. pre-trailer, blonde’s entire marketing strategy was releasing stills wherein de armas was “inseparable” from monroe in archival photos and iconic moments. it is funny to me, then, that these [“faux”] biopics — so concerned with the act of uncovering — ride steadfast in the opposite direction, looking to fabulize and restructure the lives of dead women. 

to be perfectly clear, i personally think blurring the lines of art and reality is super cool. mishima: a life in four chapters is one of the greatest movies of all time, a grand use of craft as an apparatus for mythologizing. it is successful because it knows the strength of this interplay: the use of abstraction to divulge some warped, nonexistent truth. therefore, it doesn’t make any sense that blonde’s screen is nothing more, nothing less than an empty canvas. its images are recreated from real life, aspect ratios shift with “no story sense to it,” a vapid attempt to recapture and a colossal failure in recontextualization. a surreal narrative should hope to deconstruct, but this circles back into its own exploitation. it is unfortunately exactly as they say: torture porn. 

and not in the sense i was convinced it would be. its gratuity originates from its never-ending obsession with norma’s womb, which is violated and bloodied over and over. for all dominik’s overt intentions to peel away her skin via the psychosexual and the freudian, it comes off twice as insular. her speech is never not infantilized, from the moment we first see her as a child, and the incessant “daddy” exclamations couldn’t be more obvious (even if possibly true). the effect of her unvaried speech is not an outpouring of empathy, but one of disgust at the extent to which he has degraded her — an intelligent, talented woman and the brightest star there ever was. dominik is not able to recreate marilyn in our image, but rather, he sees only the image itself.

i have not read joyce carol oates’ novel and hope i never have to encounter more than an excerpt of her internalized misogyny put to pages. de armas suffers at dominik’s need to be faithful to the source material, but more than that, she suffers from his awful script that leaves room for nothing more than a one-note performance (unsurprisingly, this was also the case for stewart’s diana spencer… it’s almost like i’m starting to notice a pattern here). was not anticipating this much pro-life bullshit either. when sperm started swimming across my screen, overlayed against the cosmos, i wanted to scream “shut the fuck up” and die. yes, christ, what an ugly dream indeed. 

andrew dominik could never hope to understand norma or marilyn because he could never even hope (or want) to understand a woman. the biggest crime is something that this movie does not believe: this woman’s death was tragic, but her life was not a tragedy.

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