I don’t write as much as I used to, but when I do find that inspiration it’ll be because I found something that needs to be put into words.
Blonde is a fictional recreation, or more so a dramatisation, of Marilyn Monroe’s life. It’s also an adaptation of the 2000 fictional novel of the same name, while also being marketed as a biopic, which is where our first problem lies. Blonde has been getting quite a divisive reaction long before the film was even released, as it was seen as a bastardisation of the famous icon. It didn’t help it was rated a NC-17 in the states meaning it couldn’t go to cinemas, as it was also seen as exploitative of Monroe as the film features her being sexually assaulted, having pregnancy issues, she is seen naked quite a bit throughout the film and the film portrays Marilyn as probably the most miserable celebrity to ever grace your small screen. Keep in mind the film just came out so perhaps all the negative attention is just overblown, because it is easier to trash something than to say it was decent. (I know I’m definitely guilty of this.) The reason for my sudden inspiration to write a review for this movie is because I couldn’t find myself relating to the hate for Blonde. I actually enjoyed it as I found it’s a quite solid film. It’s not perfect, as I do have my complaints, but it is not as terrible as most people online are suggesting.
Blonde give us the life of Marilyn Monroe. We see her upbringing with her abusive mother, to her rise and fame as an actress turned Hollywood sex symbol, which attracted some very toxic marriages and pregnancy dramas, which ultimately leads us to her miserable end. I must admit I wasn’t too versed in Marilyn’s life before seeing this as I knew who she was and I knew she was iconic enough to where you could get your picture taken with lookalikes at Universal Studios. I have also seen one of her movies, Some Like it Hot, which is a fun light hearted comedy where Marilyn played the pretty yet ditsy blonde. These were the type of roles I knew she was most famous for and thanks to Blonde it confirmed I was correct. I did learn, however, Marilyn wanted the same desire that Elvis craved, which was to star in more dramatic roles and to become the Liz Taylor of her time. Too bad Hollywood is a cruel place where she’ll be turned into a corporate sell-out, doing the same roles until she was completely milked for what’s she worth. I’m not sure how much of what I saw in Blonde was true, but I understand I’m not watching a documentary and I don’t doubt that I understand who Marilyn was and what she represented better than I did before, which is a similar vein to how I felt about when I watched Elvis a few months back.
All movies take creative liberties when it comes to real events or people. I’m usually okay with this as long as I’m entertained and I at the very least get a sense of what this person was actually like and I learn something I didn’t know before. That’s what I’m looking for in a movie like Blonde and an example I have of this that meets this criteria too, which also happens to be recent and which isn’t Elvis: it’s Spencer. Spencer is an entirely fictional story about Princess Diana and one tedious Christmas she had in this big mansion living with the royals. You get the idea she can’t stand these people, especially her husband who seems to be prepping her sons to be ready for the same lifestyle. The most interesting thing was the power that the house servants had over the Royal Family as they run the entire house and they schedule what food they eat, what they wear at each hour of the day. Spencer is the most anti royal family movie I’m aware of and it gave me greater knowledge of what I imagine Diana’s life was been apart of them Diana and having no possible escape from that situation. Other movies I would say that meet these rules I made up would include a personal favourite of mine, Amadeus and sure why not Elvis too.
Now let’s focus on the quality of Blonde rather than its value as an adaptation. We’ll get this out of the way, Ana de Armas carries this entire film with her tragic portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. She is really giving it her all and I think even people who hate this movie agree she is the best part. I really liked how Marilyn’s view point is mostly played from a dreamlike nightmare fuelled lens. The duality of Marilyn was also interesting seeing the shallow shell of Marilyn Monroe the celebrity verses Norma Jean the regular girl with all the issues, who just wants to be seen behind the mask of Marilyn. These two faces tie to recurring factor that keeps coming up in the film which is Marilyn’s idolisation of her father. The man that left her and mother long ago, but is now realising he wants to be with his daughter again, not Marilyn, but Norma. This is key, because all her relationships in the film focus on these guys falling for Marilyn and not Norma. That is probably the reason why she calls all her husbands ‘daddy’ which everyone who has seen this movie has made fun of and I must admit I’m not particularly fond of the over usage of this line either. Blonde is a very artistic film where Marilyn never says the names of husbands, which is why it can be pretty pretentious when she is still calling them Daddy years into their marriage.
Here we go for those who hate Blonde, here are my complaints. I was not prepared for the bleakness that the film offered as I felt almost as miserable as Marilyn. It’s quite unrelenting in that regard as bad things just kept piling up for her from the start till the very end. It’s good for getting you to sympathise with Marilyn, but bad also, because the entire thing can quickly become tiresome and one note. I think what hurts Blonde the most is it is an over 2 and a half hour movie, as the length doesn’t feel warranted as it’s one of those movies that you know exactly how the rest of the movie is going to playout within the first 10 minutes and yep the movie didn’t let me down. Blonde is an arthouse movie too, which yes I admit it can be pretty pretentious. The aspect ratios changing at will along with colour filters and the editing of some parts of the movie are very psychedelic. It all seems intentional by the director and for some scenes it works very well, but I would have preferred a consistent style to pin point instead of the throw everything at the wall mentality. As even that became just as repetitive as nothing but bad things happening to Marilyn. Blonde is just misery porn, is a complaint I can get as I sort of felt that a few times in the film. Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe was a Hollywood celebrity after all it can’t be all doom and gloom, which the film does address scarcely, mostly through her endearing fans, but they’re Marilyn’s fans, so I guess I’m supposed to feel bad again.
To wrap it all up Blonde is an exceptionally well made film, with an interesting story carried by a talented lead actress. It just goes a little too far in some places with the filmmaking and excessive amount of misery on display. These flaws would be the main reason why I would only watch this once and no more. Also I don’t think the rating does the movie justice as while the stuff I mentioned at the start is present it is not as excessive as the rating suggests. Netflix told me Blonde was rated R in Australia because of the high impact sexual violence, which I was surprised to learn that only happened once in the whole movie and the actual deed took place off-screen. While I prefer not to see Marilyn get assaulted, but I don’t understand how you could justify an 18+ rating when it’s only based on the fact it happens once and is only implied. I’m going off on a tangent, as I have so many more nitpicks with rating boards and their inconsistent ratings. Not that the rating really matters because it’s on Netflix and as long as you’re not on a kids account you have the choice to watch this film at your own risk. That’s the end, if you made it this far good on you and I really appreciate it. I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.