REVIEW – “Blonde”

If there’s any director bound to break any given cliche or trope you may have set prior to watching a biopic, it’s Andrew Dominik – the man has made two of the best films I’ve ever seen in The Assassination of Jesse James, as well as Killing Them Softly. One thing I love about his films are how simultaneously old-fashioned they feel in the sense that he has absolutely no reservations about letting conversations play out for long periods of time and he obsesses over small details most wouldn’t care about; on the other hand, all of his films feel unlike anything else I’ve seen before. Blonde certainly also takes reign in the camp of being unlike anything I’ve seen before, and certainly from the biopic genre – a genre that, at it’s worst, is exploitative and full of fabrications of stories for the sake of profiting off of the fanbase of a person. Blonde is an interesting one, not only because of what Dominik brings to the table stylistically and narratively, but in how it breaks the mold of the traditional biopic and still delivers a highly muddled and borderline exploitative film nonetheless.

Ana de Armas stars as Marilyn Monroe, as the film follows her throughout her career in front of the camera, as well as her personal life behind the scenes and glimpses into her past. For all intents and purposes, Blonde is a deeply intimate film that tells you from the get-go whether or not you’ll be able to handle it. The film is filled to the brim with questionable depictions of sexual assault, physical assault, and even simply how the film chooses to view Marilyn as a person. There are plenty of reviews coming out that will tell shine a light on what’s true and what’s not, so I personally won’t – but reading how much this film apparently fabricates and what exactly it makes up is… weird, to say the least.

One could say that Blonde is an intense, exploitative deep-dive into the patriarchy of Hollywood – a film that is meant to make you feel as uncomfortable as Marilyn Monroe felt everytime she entered a room with a man in power. The issue for me, however, is that the film never really justifies any of this nor feels like it is having any meaningful commentary on such terrible subject matter. I’m sure the intentions of the cast and crew were good, but the film genuinely feels like misery porn at times as you watch an icon of Hollywood consistently be abused in various ways and never given her due. I’m not saying there can’t be dark elements to a biopic about someone as famous as Marilyn Monroe – but I’m saying it’s not all there can be if you want to make a nuanced and human film.

Ana de Armas unsurprisingly absolutely crushes it in the role – from beginning to end, she completely disappears into the role and delivers in every way you’d expect her to. Even on the technical side of things, Andrew Dominik does a really solid job at directing this as everything feels as precise and calculated as his previous films. For all the technical beauty and the marvel that is Ana de Armas’ performance, the film never quite finds its footing and feels like an over-long, over-ambitious, and deeply mediocre exploration of Marilyn Monroe – someone I’d say is still overdue a proper Hollywood film. Even aside from the shocking stuff on display, there are a lot of genuinely rough performances from some of the supporting cast and some of the sequences in the film genuinely feel awkwardly staged/performed. The film as a whole simply feels like a clunky, convoluted mess that wants to say so much but says nothing at all.


Blonde is streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, September 28th –

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