max_ahoy’s review published on Letterboxd:
Well that was tasteful.
Like a many of people when I heard there was an NC-17 Marilyn Monroe film staring Ana De Armas coming out I was obviously quite intrigued. Then the first reactions came out and they were primarily mixed. Then the film dropped yesterday and like a many of people I clicked into my friend’s Netflix account and started the film up to see what all the hubbub was about. Well after three personal intermissions, an hour of blank staring at a wall, a trip to Walmart, and an hour and a half of texting my girlfriend I finally got through the film in its entirety what do I think?
I didn’t like it.
Having the afternoon and night to let it sink in I wouldn’t call it the worst thing ever created (well not yet anyways) but I sure as shit wouldn’t call it good either. To me this was nothing more than a tedious exercise in excessive misery porn desperately trying to disguise itself as a thoughtful tragedy chronicling the (fictitious) events that lead to the horrible fate of Norma Jeane only thing they forgot to do was make her a character. . . and make a good film. Hayoo!
As soon as the toe tail end of the final shot faded away I was ready to just ride this off as nothing more than a boring and pointless waste of time that didn’t offer any real insight into the life of the films central subject (which to me it doesn’t), but the longer I let this linger in my mind the more bitter that after taste becomes. Throughout its hundreds and sixty-eight minute runtime we’re bombarded with the copy and pasted formula of showcasing horrid abuse ranging from emotional all the way to physical followed up by a tragic event that tears her down then rinse and repeat for the next three hours. It’s not the fact that we see her constantly getting abused and taken advantage off in the film that bothers me as that is the reality of the situation, it just annoys me that there doesn’t seem to be any real reason to show any of this aside from wanting to show misery for misery sake. It also doesn’t help that the book it’s based on is nearly entirely fictitious.
This also kinda leads into what I think about the NC-17 rating. I‘ve read and see many others talking about how heinous and gratuitous the sex scenes are in this film but to me saw for a horrific rape scene early on in the film and a couple of abstract threesomes involving twins their isn’t much in the way of graphic sexual content. Even most of the physical abuse directed at Norma is either off screen or lasting only a minute or less. For me the rating is nothing more than a marketing tactic to get people to start spreading word of mouth so others can check it out for themselves to see how awful it is.
But even if it’s not as explicit as many have made it out to be, it’s still just as exploitative to me even if it did contain contrast graphic sex scenes and gratuitous violence. Everything here just feels dirty and insincere, only present to make you go “Oh!? That’s horrible!” and yes it is horrible what happened to Norma but this film doesn’t care about her, all it cares for is using her tragic life as a basis for a ruthlessly miserable vanity project and interviews with the director showcases that pretty well.
I wanna say before I finish that if you got something out this film and feel as though the hate isn’t deserved. I’m happy you found something meaningful out of it but I can’t bring myself to pretend that I find this to be a shameless film with nothin of actual worth to say. Alright, take care guys I hope your doing well. Now it’s time to go watch that Rob Zombie Munsters film or somethin.