Maddie05’s review published on Letterboxd:
Having actually watched the movie, I can say most of the criticism re: misogyny, exploiting Marilyn Monroe in death, and director’s disdain for MM and women is true
It’s laughable LAUGHABLE to see people, a lot of men, on here and elsewhere call this film “brave”. There’s absolutely nothing brave about reducing A REAL WOMAN to just her suffering and inventing abuse she never even endured. Long held criticism of how women are written and depicted on-screen by men states that women are often reduced to tropes. Women are cold/villainous/ruthless or they’re weak/naive/damsels in distress. Dominik went with the latter and used rape and other abuse (again abuse Marilyn Monroe didn’t go through) for entertainment. So what exactly is “brave” about this movie?
Men like Andrew Dominik and the ones defending him have a disdain for women and see women through a narrow lens. The Marilyn Monroe Dominik concocted is a woman who is a perpetual victim. She’s weak and naive and is always either crying or on the verge of tears. This is the kind of sexist garbage you’d expect to see 20-30 years ago, not now. But sadly there is an audience for it, and credit where credit is due, it’s not entirely male. There are a number of women who lack self-respect and are the epitome of Pick Me losers defending this
What’s particularly insane about the people defending this movie against accurate criticism of misogyny is Dominik’s own words in interviews show he’s a misogynist. He does not respect the subject of the film. He said he didn’t find other aspects of her life (her successfully gaining control over her career, starting her own production company, her activism, etc.) interesting. He was interested in her suicide. He also weirdly said it’s not a female film. Ok then why make a movie and invent BS scenarios about a woman who is one of the biggest representations of FEMALE sexuality and femininity??? Dominik explicitly said he did a lot of research about Marilyn, but ignored it. So he’s aware of what did and didn’t happen to her but chose to portray her in this disrespectful way, made up stories of abuse she never went through (while ignoring actual abuse she suffered), and created a one dimensional character for entertainment. Idk how you can say someone who does that does not have bad intentions
He could’ve done all that with a fictional character instead of using a real woman and marketing this film as a biopic with a twist. Many defenders of this film keep saying “lol why is everyone mad? It’s fiction”. Ok then why recreate iconic images of Marilyn in the movie? From her white dress moment, Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, notable portraits of Marilyn, etc. Marilyn’s suicide was filmed in her real house and in the bedroom she died. If it’s fiction, why go out of your way to do all that? Furthermore, how do people not see how fucking foul it is to make up abuse stories for entertainment when it’s a real person?
The most insulting defense of this movie is “Marilyn was exploited when she was alive. This film is showing that”. Ok except the very act of making up abuse stories while ignoring actual abuse she went through is exploitative. Funny it’s fiction but at the same time the movie shows her exploitation?? Which is it?
And yes MM was exploited and she fought against it. The movie did not show that. Instead it exploited her in death by reducing her to a perpetual victim, objectifying her, fetishizing her, and further sexualizing her like having MM say “daddy” all the time when there’s no evidence the real MM ever said that. The whole “daddy” thing is something straight out of a misogynist’s mind. Men see hot women who are comfortable with their sexuality as damaged weirdos with daddy issues. It can’t possibly be that a woman is confident and comfortable with who she is. No no, her behavior must be linked to and defined by her relationship to a man 🙄
You can show someone was exploited without re-exploiting them in the process. This movie failed in that regard. Making up fictional abuse stories just to watch her get abused on-screen IS exploitation. Fetishizing her and sexualizing her IS exploitation. Making up lies about her IS exploitation. That’s why many critics of this movie find it disrespectful. It’s not enough to know MM was exploited. That’s the bare minimum. That’s the typical Male Feminist defense too. And it’s repulsive to see people call this movie feminist. If you really think this reductive garbage is feminist, you’re an imbecile
It’s interesting to see people not do their research about her life and be like “Her life was so tragic 😥😥😥😥” to defend this one sided movie. Based on what I’ve read about her, she did endure trauma and tragedies, but she also experienced moments and long stretches of life where she wasn’t in tragic circumstances every other minute. People seem to be mythologizing her real life exploitation to a greater extent than what happened. For example, she was savvy and knew how to generate publicity. She befriended popular gossip columnists, used fashion strategically, and had a damn good publicist. She did have some control over her image. And Marilyn Monroe wasn’t really a separate person than Norma Jean like this movie says. Norma legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. Why would she do that if MM was a separate person Norma detested?
The only thing critics of this movie get wrong are the rape scenes. The rape scenes are not graphic or brutal as some said, which is frankly surprising considering the director is who he is for reasons I outlined above. The scenes are uncomfortable, but that is the nature of a rape scene. They should make you uncomfortable, but they are not hard to watch. Having said that, the rape scene with JFK was definitely filmed with the male gaze in mind, and that is despicable and shows Dominik is a POS
Setting aside the misogyny, the movie is just not good. It’s not horrible or bad. It’s just ok, bland, and boring at times. The pov abortion shots were unnecessary and weird as were the fetus shots. What was the reason for that? It was very out of place and kinda trashy
The only good part about this movie is Ana de Armas. She’s very talented, and I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for this considering she’s been getting buzz the moment the first trailer dropped. She did a really good job with the garbage material she was given, and it’s not her fault MM was written as one dimensional. AdA was vulnerable on-screen which is not easy to do. Unlike Dominik, I don’t think she sees MM as less than. I think AdA’s performance is the only thing that kept this movie from being trashy and cheap.