Jaron Herren’s review published on Letterboxd:
Since (attempting) to become a filmmaker I’ve slowly grown to personally find critiquing movies very arbitrary and quite a futile process considering knowing first hand (on a small scale) how much passion, love, and hard work is put into every frame of every film but a countless crew and cast regardless of the outcome.
Also because films on this level seem to be nearly always great or better in terms of technicality because that’s where this industry standard is at. That’s why ive tended to not dive into films that didn’t work for me personally, it would just be nit picks and subjectivity.
However, given AD’s apparent public distain for Marilyn, the fucking main character of his film, I like to think that for him, there is somewhat of an exception here.
I’ve sat on this for a while after watching it and I’ve developed some notes on why I thought this didn’t work for me, and it correlates to the way AD has been acting and talking in the media. I feel like the first 30 minutes of this film contain the majority of the subtext and messaging, and other than that only really act as a justification for the way Monroe is treated going forward.
Ana is fantastic here for the surface level direction she seems to have received, but the sour taste in my mouth comes from her character is treated. Marilyn is put through an unrelenting gauntlet of punishment, and yet the film doesn’t really have any empathy for her, instead it seems to be insinuating it’s her own fault, through nativity or ignorance, and it’s heartbreaking to watch considering what a (tortured) icon she was for feminism and filmmaking.
There is a way to portray hardship and punishment while having a deft hand, but there is little to no subtly here. That is contrasted to the gratuitous imagery which toward the end felt incredibly mean spirited to no other end.
Again, the technical aspects such as cinematography, acting, and sound design are near flawless; and it seems like everyone (especially Ana) we’re in the right heart space to make this film, but perhaps Andrew Dominick was not the right person to helm the project.