Blonde ★★½

2022 Catch Up: 25 / 27

Polarizing. Confrontational. Divisive. All of these terms and more could be used to accurately describe Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, a perhaps always doomed fictionalization of the legendary Marilyn Monroe and based on the also controversial source material. The main issue here isn’t that it takes a fictional stance on a real legend, but in its execution. Focusing primarily on the downbeat - to say as an understatement - aspect of her life, the writing just feels rather monotonous and repetitive, especially at nearly 3 hours as Dominik’s film repeatedly hammers home essentially the same theme and idea to a mind-numbing crescendo and with scenes that feel at once unnecessary and crude - painting Monroe as a one-note emotionally broken woman could be compelling if it weren’t also simultaneously hampered by its contradicting decision to view her as a sex object while condemning it, making for quite the uncomfortable watch. But by the end, it all feels more than a bit hollow, making one question just what the point of all the misery porn beforehand was. It’s also rather overlong, self-indulgent and the writing could’ve used another pass through the wringer as well. 

But to completely dismiss it would be to bypass what Blonde does succeed in. On a technical scale alone, it’s simply superb. The cinematography and visuals are wonderfully inspired for a film of this nature, communicating the headspace and whirlwind of a mentality it’s titular character underwent even as the direction and writing fail her. The transitions are among the best all year and the musical composition is perfectly suited to communicating the stress and anxiety inherent in the picture. This coupled with the ambitious structure and stylistic touches make it beautiful to watch. Ana de Armas gives a haunting performance in the lead role. Captivating and beautiful, but also believably broken, Armas portrayal of Monroe feels perfectly attuned to the world Dominik has crafted and she Carrie’s every frame. 

At the end of it all, Blonde feels destined to be a fierce talking point for years, and deservedly so for all the right and wrong reasons. A tour de force of “biopic” filmmaking unfortunately hampered by its timing and place in the world and further more by its attempts to condemn the very thing it seems to sneakily be an implication of.

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