Blonde review: There is very little truth and still so much reality in Andrew Dominik’s not-really-a-biopic on Marilyn Monroe.
There are few films so horrifying, brutal and still so stunning as Andrew Dominik’s latest feature, Blonde. The closest association I can tether it to is Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! and Requiem For A Dream. Both divisive, both gorgeous and both absolutely impossible to watch more than once. Blonde is a reimagined, fictional biopic on the woman the world just cannot let rest, Marilyn Monroe. Dominik brings Marilyn back from grave and gives her the worst life one can imagine. With multiple scenes of rape, harassment, child abuse, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, miscarriages, forced abortions, drug addiction, mental illnesses, and suicide, the film is farthest thing from an easy watch about a Hollywood starlet. But Dominik also makes sure that behind the façade of Marilyn, it’s Norma Jean who takes centre stage at all times. And Ana de Armas shines as both the glamorous star and the tortured woman that she actually was.
But as easy as it was for me to be mesmerised and affected by Blonde, others might find it extremely exploitative. Of course, if you had to imagine a different life for Marilyn Monroe, why did it have to be the worst possible version?
Her mother blames her for the dad ditching them, tries to kill her when she was a child and ultimately ends up in a mental hospital, pushing Norma Jean to a life in an orphanage. We cut to her finally landing her big break at the movies courtesy some horrible, non-consensual transactions with powerful men. The journey from one film to another might be more tough to follow if one isn’t too familiar with Don’t Bother To Knock and Niagara and her earlier titles.
Blonde is ultimately a polarising film but serves as a vehicle to hammer in Ana de Armas’ star quality. Many will shun it for it horrific imagery and brutality on a misjudged, dead woman. But if you were to really give up on that idea, see it as the story of one fictional Norma Jean that never existed but all of us know how she very well could have, you have yourself the true heartbreaking, stories of a lot of women wronged by the world. Blonde, in my opinion, has been more than successful in achieving that.