Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Andrew Dominik’s biographical drama is for adults only, about a dramatized account of the internal life of Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas). With Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale and Julianne Nicholson.
Blonde is adapted from the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which was published 22 years earlier, while its also most notable for being the first film released for a streaming service to be given a NC-17 rating, for its content, which is why it earns its 18 certificate here in the UK from the British Board of Film Classification.
Marilyn Monroe was one of the biggest stars in the film world – making a name for herself in the Golden Age, having small but significant parts in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve and John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle (both classics in their own right), then having a now-important starring role in the film-noir Don’t Bother to Knock, next becoming a star with Howard Hawks’s classic musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, while also giving excellent performances in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, her last classic movie.
However, I never had a huge amount of expectations for Blonde to be decent and when I found out the running time for the movie, I wanted to get it out of the way straight away – and after watching this, I am very glad I did.
Having said this though, Ana de Armas does give a good performance in her role as the blonde bombshell whose movies were popular, but whose life off screen was somewhat different, which eventually let to her downfall.
On the other hand, Adrien Brody as the playwright Arthur Miller, Bobby Cannavale as the previous New York Yankees baseball player Joe DiMaggio (the first baseball player to earn $100,000 a season), Xavier Samuel Jr. as Charles ‘Cass’ Chaplin Jr. (Charlie Chaplin’s son) and Julianne Nicholson as Marilyn’s mentally unstable mother Gladys Pearl Baker don’t offer much in their respective parts and it is not the only problems the movie has.
The direction from Dominik is a mixture – with certain scenes involving Armas, it is good because her facial expressions are seen to a strong effect to give the viewer exactly what she is going through, especially when filming Some Like It Hot. But with other scenes, it is only okay, as a lack of character development is on offer here, which is a pity.
The script is written to an okay standard by the director as it is weak in places and there are scenes that did not need to be in the final edit, so the duration didn’t need to be 166 minutes long, and the pace is slow.
Some of the film is not an easy watch at times, and on occasions, it is not part of the story, which doesn’t help.
Overall, the performance of Ana de Armas is good, but Blonde is otherwise a biographical fiction drama that falls flat, because of the okay performances from the rest of the cast, along with the mixed direction, weak script, slow pace, long duration, lack of character development and disturbing adult content. You don’t learn very much here about one of the biggest Golden Age stars of American cinema.