By: Amanda Guarragi
When biopics are made there is a certain level of care and understanding. The filmmakers chose to explore every aspect of one person’s life to have some form of admiration for what the artist brought to the world. Even if it’s embellished a bit for dramatized purposes on screen, some tell the story as authentic as possible. Some filmmakers have highlighted stories of fictionalized events in one’s life and did so tastefully by respecting who they were. Whether the story is fictional or not, many filmmakers have respected the artist they have chosen to dedicate years to behind the camera. The one filmmaker who did not do any of what is stated above is Andrew Dominik for his fictionalized Marilyn Monroe feature Blonde.
Firstly, the fictional novel written by Joyce Carol Oates depicts the dual life of Norma Jean. She has to put on a persona like Marilyn Monroe, and she completely loses her true sense of self the longer she plays the character. Oates fabricates multiple sexual assaults, abuse, and abortions and treats mental illness as a plot device. There were already many issues with the novel, but after watching the choices Dominik made to bring this adaptation to the screen, it was better to be left to the imagination. There are extremely uncomfortable moments to watch because the person on screen does not feel like Marilyn Monroe in the slightest. There is this emotionless detachment to her, no warmth or love is radiating off of her, it’s as if Ana de Armas is playing a hollow character that no one ever knew.
Apart from the story feeling like horrible graphic scenes placed in a sequence to show the worst days of her life, the film felt overly stylized. The cinematography did not match the story that was being told and kept changing throughout. From aspect ratio changes to colour grading to symbolic transitions that became laughable, there was no clear vision for this story. Other than to exploit and degrade a woman who has been treated with disrespect at every turn. Monroe became a sex symbol because that’s how she was marketed, but Norma Jean had a different persona entirely. They touch upon the differences but with no respect towards her as a whole person. The nudity was gratuitous and so were the sex scenes that added absolutely nothing to the story. From the beginning of this film, Norma Jean was treated as a worthless doll who longed for love but felt absolutely nothing.
Blonde is a fictionalized disservice to a beautiful, kindhearted woman, who has always enforced love, body positivity, and equality in an industry where the studio system silenced women. Dominik showed no care towards her as a human being whatsoever and there is absolutely no sense of humanity in this film. It is a series of scenes exploiting her and showing the worst moments a woman could go through. Marilyn Monroe was a great actress; she had great comedic timing and could also play in those deep emotional moments. She was energetic and sweet, despite what was happening beneath the surface in her personal life. She fought for her position in Hollywood and uplifted other women in the industry at the same time. The woman you see in this film is nothing like the woman everyone adored.
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