Jake’s review published on Letterboxd:
I feel like there’s a lot to say and unpack about this, but the vast majority of ink that could be spilled about ‘Blonde’ has so little to do with the actual content and function of the film in a vacuum that I think I’ll just spare myself and anyone who takes my opinion even remotely seriously some time and not do any of that. To say that Dominic accomplished what he set out to do because he made a polarizing film is a flagrant act of wild dishonesty in my eyes. Why? It’s because this lacks a key ingredient: provocation. There’s nothing that feels interrogative here. It is a film so indifferent to the idea that it could be engaged with meaningfully that it feels wildly uncinematic even though it’s positively relentless in its crusade to overstylize itself. It’s a weird dichotomous beast that contains evident skill and artistry that’s so obviously impressive on so many fronts, and yet it has *no* effect on me whatsoever. This was a very similar experience to watching ‘Waves’- where it legitimately feels like everyone who wanted to tell this story was so preoccupied with how they could tell it, but wholly and completely neglected to make the story itself worthwhile or even remotely interesting. There’s a frightening lack of conveyance, just a lot of thuddingly stupid and comically exaggerated devices that- while visually distinct and well crafted- simply do not function. There isn’t a single solitary idea or feeling that feels inherent to the art of film here, I could get the exact same experience from reading this script and take away exactly the same dry, dull, tired thematic machinations that this is attempting to tackle. When you watch a movie, there has to be something innate to its construction on a visual level, a kind of unfiltered viscera that comes from the images and how they intersect. Instead what we have here is this didactic and deeply empty-headed film that I cannot even hypothetically justify the existence of. It’s so thoroughly uninterested with Norma Jean beyond repeating the same ideas we’ve seen in much more interesting, thoughtful, and even more thuddingly unsubtle ways throughout the history of cinema. Mulholland Drive. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Sunset Boulevard. Star 80. All movies that don’t uniformly handle their themes with grace or delicacy, but nonetheless remain poignant and effective collages of omnipresent societal ills. Reducing this character, real world context aside, to this vessel for suffering is just such a two-dimensional exercise. I don’t care! Make me feel something! This is what movies are! Why are you so thoroughly disinterested in making them???
So no, regardless of your reaction to this, I inherently object to the standpoint that provocation was achieved here. The only ire I felt here was born from boredom. There’s no incendiary questions being asked, no beating heart at the center of it all. It mistakes a kind of mythic reverential pity for empathy and frankly I find that to be wildly artistically dull. Dominik could’ve made a film that accomplishes exactly what this does in the form of a short film that barely eclipses the 10 minute mark, but since everyone involved in this production seemingly had such all-consuming and self-congratulatory ambition, it drags you along for an exhausting amount of time that destroys whatever good will you take in with you. If you want to be provocative then fucking provoke already and stop wasting everyone’s time.
I really thought that my biggest stumbling block here was going to be getting over the idea of making a movie about someone whose already tarnished legacy is further exploited when this person expressly said ‘I do not want this to be done to me after I am dead’- a wish I think is perfectly reasonable, honestly, but no. This is too boring and one-dimensional to feel like it does anything to the legacy of anybody. I get that a lot of people want to defend this in the name of freedom of expression, but this is a corner that everyone involved painted themselves into.
De Armas is trying, every male actor in this film emotes like a cartoon, and every word that’s spoken could’ve ostensibly been written by my classmates in Screenwriting 101 at my local community college. There is literally nothing here, to the point where I couldn’t even enjoy the frequently nice Cave & Ellis score. What-fuckin-ever, man.