Blonde Review: Ana de Armas slayed as Marilyn Monroe, film seems too fictional and untrue

Blonde makes the same mistakes that the recently released Netflix series Dahmer does when it comes to avoiding common pitfalls. Blonde concentrates on the lush curves, the tear-filled eyes, the wet mouth, and the many men who abused her without ever revealing anything about the woman inside, despite attempting to examine Marilyn Monroe's life and the origins of her eternal mythology.

In Blonde, Monroe plays the victim for life. While Monroe's reading of Dostoyevsky and Chekov and her fighting for better compensation in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are mentioned in passing, there is no mention of her defying the studio and launching her own production firm.

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Despite Blonde's flaws and unsettling truth twists, it is a beautiful-looking movie. Blonde is, in the words of director Andrew Dominik, an "avalanche of images and occurrences," switching between several aspect ratios and being photographed in both black & white and colour. It delves inside the fictitious mind of a lady who stood in for people of all racial, gender, and sexual orientation.

Blonde, which is based on the 738-page doorstopper by Joyce Carol Oates, follows the tale of Norma Jeane (Ana de Armas), who is taken away from her mentally ill mother Gladys (Julianne Nicholson), and placed in foster care. Her popularity as a pin-up model gives rise to the Marilyn Monroe character.

According to Norma Jeane, she sees herself as distinct from Monroe. “When I come out of my dressing room, I’m Norma Jeane. I’m still her when the camera is rolling; Marilyn Monroe only exists on the screen.”

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Through Monroe's marriage to playwright Arthur Miller and retired baseball player Joe DiMaggio, who is referred to as Ex-Athlete (Bobby Cannavale), the film brilliantly illuminates Monroe's life (Adrien Brody). She also dwells on her degrading sex with Kennedy, also known as The President (Caspar Phillipson), and her polyamorous relationships with Eddy Robinson Jr. (Evan Williams) and Cass Chaplin (Xavier Samuel), the son of Charlie Chaplin.

Armas is brilliant as Monroe in spite of the controversy surrounding the hiring of a Cuban actress in the role of an American legend. When Monroe sings I Wanna be Loved by You, you have to remind yourself that it is Armas and not Monroe since, aside from the blonde wig, blue contacts, and dental prosthetics, Armas has remarkably brought Monroe to life.

In addition to nudity and child harm, the film's NC-17 rating (the first in more than a decade) for its brutal rape scene and the terrifying abortion from Monroe's vagina's point of view also feeds the sexpot image of Monroe.

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Blonde finally is yet another look at the legend of Monroe, the woman who stood above the subway grate with a passing train blowing up her white dress. This time, however, the focus is on Monroe's legend rather than on our relationship to celebrity and the mythmaking involved in the creation of pop-cultural icons. Blonde does not give us a sense of the skull underneath the skin, even yet the skin beneath the flowing skirts is available for all to gawk at.

Blonde is available on Netflix.

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