“Please don’t make me look like a joke.”
Marilyn Monroe‘s request in one of her last interviews is a wish that is rarely understood or respected. Whether out of love, curiosity, or pure exploitation, her short trajectory in life (she died at age 36) has been documented as plagued by existential, psychological, real, and imagined doubts. For the legend who made us laugh so often on film, even 60 years after her death, she is still minimally misunderstood. As in Blonde, the movie that was born controversial and that finally reached Netflix.
Blonde is no good, unfortunately, and with no respect for Norma Jeane or Marilyn Monroe. A disappointment for me as a fan of Andrew Dominick. Technically, it’s excellent. Photography, interpretation, and soundtrack. The problem lies at the origin, in the controversial 2000 book sold as biographical fiction and signed by Joyce Carol Oates.
The author explored painful facts to introduce us to the actress’s constant pain, created fictional characters, and makes us see that Marilyn’s survival for just over 30 years could have felt like 90. The drama is so intense it seems like a joke. There is not even a frame without tears, sighs, or pain. It bothers us not only for the pity that the actress didn’t want us to have but also for putting her in the “near madness” scenario that she also feared and refused to accept. For die-hard fans is troublesome to do the opposite she asked to.
But let’s get to the positives because they are also there.
The recreation of sets, costumes, and characters is perfect. Even morbid. The final part is recorded at the actress’ house, in the same room where she was found. Things that only aficionados would recognize, but that collaborate to bring realism. The delivery and transformation of Ana de Armas are impressive. She is Marilyn like no other has been able to be before. Too bad it’s precise with such a questionable narrative.
Joyce Carol was effective in bringing to center stage – 22 years before #metoo – the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse to which the actress was subjected (too bad that Ana also has to act them out with such realism, an abuse in itself), as well as the psychological abuse that the movies created for Marilyn (the phrase from Some Like It Hot, which she says she isn’t smart, is passive aggressive from the screenwriters angry with her, a great move to highlight), but it’s in the serious accusations like that JFK, for example, presented as a sexual predator and also responsible for Marilyn’s murder that the skid is worse. Of course, there is the version and real possibility of his and his brother’s involvement in her death, but showing it in a movie as fact cannot have the cloak of fiction as protection. It’s wrong.
Warren Ellis and Nick Cave‘s soundtrack deserves a separate post because it uses themes adapted for the film, there’s no space here.
Blonde will earn Ana de Armas an Oscar nomination and she deserves it. It’s almost 3 hours of uninterrupted tears, something that can be tiring, but she delivered a flawless performance. The film is claustrophobic and drawn out, almost repetitive with Marilyn without a moment to breathe, in a constant destructive and tearful spiral. Excessive crying. Too bad, Marilyn Monroe deserved better.