I. Simon’s review published on Letterboxd:
To call Blonde a challenging work is an understatement; not just in viewing it, but also in writing about it. It’s difficult to write about the film, let alone defend it, without bringing up the discourse surrounding it or the fact that its director has said some utterly embarrassing things throughout the press tour. And to be clear, Andrew Dominik’s statements and overall ego absolutely should be criticized and anyone who says otherwise should be questioned, regardless of where they fall on the film itself. I’d also like to mention that I can absolutely, positively, 100% understand why one would not like this, so if you fall into that camp, that is perfectly okay. Lastly, I don’t know what Dominik’s true intentions with this were, because in my eyes, what is being presented on screen doesn’t necessarily line up with everything he has said throughout the press tour.
And while I can’t comment on the Fire Walk With Me comparisons because I haven’t really seen anything of Twin Peaks yet (something I hope to fix in the future) or on how truly accurate this is given I’m far from an expert on Marilyn Monroe, what I can say is that, at least when setting aside it is a fictionalized version of a real individual’s life, I personally fail to see how this is dehumanizing, agency-robbing exploitation. There’s so clearly humanity in both Ana de Armas’s tremendous, career-best performance and how Norma Jeane (even if this is a fictionalized version) is characterized here. Sure, one can argue that a stand-in probably should’ve been used instead of a real person, and I can’t fault one for souring on this for that reason…but that aside, I found this to be immensely empathetic towards its lead and an incredibly heartbreaking film more than anything else.
EDIT: For a film that had so much discourse regarding its NC-17 rating, I’d argue this is tamer than several R-rated films I’ve seen. Also, the more I think about this film and discuss it with others, the more I adore it. Really hope to write more about this one in the future.