Ana de Armas

Blonde Review: Ana de Armas is exquisite as Marilyn Monroe, but both women deserve better

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In Blonde, Ana de Armas expertly conveys the excruciating trauma hidden beneath Marilyn Monroe’s bombshell exterior, but Andrew Dominik drowns it in sensationalism. Check out our Trendz 4 Friend. review.

Ana de Armas plays Marilyn Monroe in Blonde.

Name: Blonde

Rating: 3 / 5

Blonde Cast: Ana de Armas

Blonde Director: Andrew Dominik

Streaming Platform: Netflix

The mystery surrounding Hollywood’s greatest beauty, Marilyn Monroe, has served as an exploitative motif for many films and television shows over the years. Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, starring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, adds another “male gaze” introspection to Norma Jeane, hidden beneath the “blonde bombshell” moniker. Does Blonde do justice to the forever misunderstood Norma Jeane, with so many iterations about her trauma-filled, heavily publicized personal life that led to her heartbreaking death? Let us investigate!

Blonde, based on Joyce Carol Oates’ bestselling novel of the same name, offers a disturbing, dark, and overtly fictional (a trigger warning should have been included!) look at Marilyn Monroe’s inner and outer demons. It is not to be confused with a biopic of the Hollywood legend, as that would be a grave insult to her! From her troubled childhood, played by Lily Fisher as a young Norma Jeane, to being tortured both physically and mentally by her unstable mother Gladys (a terrific Julianne Nicholson!) – who drives her straight through a fire-ridden Hollywood to almost drowning her in the bathtub – to her constant search for an abandoned father through the many “creepy, ugly” love interests in her life, you’re left feeling uncomfortable for Marilyn Monroe in the two hours and forty minutes.

Marilyn is constantly stripped through a male-dominated microscope in Blonde – both physically and mentally – whether it’s Hollywood bigwigs like Fox executive Darryl F. Zanuck (David Warshofsky) who take unfair advantage of Monroe in the ruse of stardom. , her domineering husbands – Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale as the “manipulative” Playwright and the “abusive” Ex-Athlete, respectively – and lust-induced lovers – Xavier Samuel and Evan Williams play Charlie Chaplin and Edward G. Robinson’s youngest son in a problematically glamour throuple with Marilyn Monroe, as well as Caspar Phillipson plays The President – and even her diehard fans, who openly.

It’s excruciatingly squeamish in one Blonde sequence with “The President,” touching on Marilyn’s alleged romance with JFK, which most likely earned Blonde it’s NC-17 rating, written and shot as if to fulfill Andrew Dominick’s unfathomable experimental filmmaking fantasies. Equally heinous is the exploitation of Norma Jeane’s desire to be a mother and the loss of her children through abortion and miscarriage, which leads Marilyn to start talking to the fetus, who eventually talks back to her. The embryo CGI undermines the suspension of disbelief that the film so desperately tries to achieve. There’s also an extremely troubling scene in which Marilyn’s foetus is seen degrading the actress and blaming her for its death, which is sure to spark a heated debate about anti-abortion legislation.

In terms of technique, Chayse Irvin’s unconventional cinematography in Blonde is led by the constant mixing of aspect ratios while oscillating between black and white and color, as seen in sequences where we see Marilyn Monroe’s greatest performances, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in crowded theatres. The operatic score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis does little to heighten the heightened tensions that Marilyn Monroe is constantly subjected to.

Despite the brilliant work of Blonde’s production designer Florencia Martin and costume designer Jennifer Johnson – seen divinely in the scene replaying Marilyn Monroe’s iconic skirt flying moment from The Seven Year Itch – the genre transformation we end up with is a seedy horror film with terrifying consequences that limits the main protagonist sketch. Equally to blame is the overzealous desire to put Monroe through one horrifying incident after another with a man, from domestic violence to casting, channeling the very sexual craze Marilyn was subjected to her entire career. Making her appear stupid in her own story when she was anything but is a travesty of the highest order.

What’s also troubling is that, despite Blonde’s length, Andrew Dominick’s screenplay never settles on which aspect of Marilyn Monroe he wants to emphasize. When you’re ready to invest, you’re forced to emotionally shift gears. Blonde works best when the aesthetic is secondary and the primary focus is Ana de Armas’ Marilyn Monroe.

Speaking of Ana de Armas, the sole reason Blonde deserves praise, the Cuban actress (naysayers who questioned her casting will undoubtedly be eating out of her hand!) is outstanding as Marilyn Monroe. Even Armas’ accent is a tribute to Norma Jeanes’ innocence, matching her physicality down to her iconic million-dollar smile. Ana is able to bring Norma Jeane’s pain to life through the character Marilyn Monroe, a recurring narrative arc in Blonde, even when she appears to be at her happiest. When the emphasis is on Marilyn Monroe’s point of view rather than others, the viewer is moved. They are, however, few and far between.

At the end of the day, Blonde uses Marilyn Monroe as a caricature to remind us of how cruel Hollywood was, and perhaps still is, to women. The stylized projection does not justify its existence; rather, it simply reiterates how it’s past time for Hollywood to stop making Marilyn Monroe’s misery and death into a cash cow every chance they get, and let her and her mysterious being rest in peace…

In conclusion, despite Ana de Armas’ superb portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, both talented women would have preferred anything other than Blonde!

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