The gap between a star performance and the movie that contains it is rarely bigger than “Blonde,” weapon annie Amazingly captures the look and essence of Marilyn Monroe for a film that is pretentious, hectic and lengthy to the point of exhaustion. Netflix certainly gets its worthwhile attention due to its restrictive NC-17 rating, but the film’s goodness runs out before its credits.
Based on Joyce Carroll Oates’ writer-director Andrew Dominic’s novel about a Hollywood icon (“The Coward Robert Ford Assassination of Jesse James”), the film was created on the premise that not only frozen time star Suffering because of the men around her, and because of a society (that is, us) who sneered at her even in the pre-Internet era. It’s not new or wrong, but the tone is so self-conscious and surreal that it undercuts these insights.
Fuzzy fact and fiction, “The Blonde” begins as a very young Norma Jeanne and her relationship with her deranged mother (Julianne Nicholson), who is forced to abandon her, returning again and again to the way she grew up. Never stopped craving thoughts. A father she doesn’t know, while trying to replace him with celebrities who woo her, marry and exploit her.
Norma Jeanne eventually became Marilyn Monroe, but even then she always spoke about her star character in the third person, as if the image was completely different from the person behind it.
Ironically, despite the New Zealand-born director’s efforts to humanize Marilyn — having made many films based on her life, including several TV movies — this version works by replicating the Scenes do the best job of depicting familiar images. De Armas and the amazing hair/makeup/costume work present these moments in such an incredible way (occasionally mixed with footage of Monroe’s co-star) that you have to blink to make sure it’s not real.
– Source: CNN Business
Ana de Armas turns Marilyn Monroe in Netflix’s ‘Blonde’
Beyond that, the film drags hard during unpleasant episodes of actresses being used and abused, oscillating between color and black-and-white imagery in a casual fashion. Dominic also deals with Monroe’s loss of her pregnancy by peeking at the fetus inside her, which is symbolic of how over-the-top much of the film is.
These excesses cannot completely obscure the fearless and vulnerable nature that De Armas portrays, and she may be right Arguing that NC-17 rating (a guide suggesting that only adults can enter the theatre) is not worth it, as the same avant-garde fare has not been received. Then again, given the overall grimness of the film rather than its sexuality, the label seems to hold its own.
Several supporting roles are also impressive, with Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody as Monroe’s husband Joe DiMaggio (again via “The Seven Year Itch”) and playwright Arthur Miller.
Still, “Blonde” is almost entirely a De Armas show, and in a way it’s worth checking out, giving her every ounce of credit. When she tells DiMaggio in Monroe’s sweet voice “I’ve been happy all my life”, the lie is both heartbreaking and unbelievable.
Netflix is giving the film its now-customary short theatrical run Debut at Venice Film Festivalbut the home is certainly the easiest place to watch, especially given its 2 hours and 46 minutes of running time.
In a private setting, viewers will be able to enjoy all the breaks they need to get through the experience, but they won’t be able to escape the film’s relentlessly sensational, in-person approach. In fact, once you stop appreciating de Armas’ immersion in the character, that’s the only itch the “Blonde” seems to know how to scratch.
“Blonde” will premiere in select U.S. theaters on September 16 and on Netflix on September 28. It is rated NC-17.