Immediately after the premiere in Venice, the biographical drama about Marilyn Monroe by the Australian Andrew Dominic (Chopper, Assassination of Jesse James, Killing them Softly) caused enormous controversy. Many called “Blonde” the most ordinary exploitation of the life of the famous actress who ended up overdosing on pills at the age of 37 and a continuation of all the bad and ugly things that happened to her during her lifetime. And maybe that’s right, because “Blonde” is an extremely shocking and explicit hyperstylized biography based on the book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which is classified as biographical fiction. This is exactly where I would place Dominik’s film, because “Blonde” (fortunately) is not one of those tedious Wikipedia biographies in which events and anecdotes from someone’s life are dryly recounted.
“Blonde” is a film in which the author tried to explore the inside of the protagonist, to find out who this famous and adored woman was who the whole world was in love with. And what we will see in almost three hours of this film, most likely was not the real Marilyn or Norma Jean Baker, but the Marilyn as imagined by the author of the film, and it is not impossible that all this is not so far from the truth. And while many dismissed “Blonde” as a film that exploits and abuses Marilyn exactly sixty years after her tragic death, it is a film that largely deals with her exploitation during her lifetime. A film that tries to figure out what happened to her life when the spotlight went out and what her life actually looked like, which from beginning to end was permeated with tragedies, accidents and a feeling of abandonment and loneliness.
In the opening scenes we see Norma Jean in the early thirties when she was six or seven years old and living with her mother Gladys (Julianne Nicholson), a frustrated alcoholic and schizophrenic who blames her daughter for her husband leaving her. She tells her daughter, drunk and delusional, that her father was a big face from Hollywood and that one day he will come for her, and after all the great traumas with her mother, who will end up in an insane asylum, Marilyn ends up in an orphanage, which only deepens her traumas. Fifteen years later, Norma Jean becomes Marilyn (Anna de Armas), a beautiful girl who will become an actress after her career as a photo model, but the trauma will only increase.
From the rape of the head of the studio, later the president himself, forced abortions and spontaneous abortions even though she desperately wanted to have a child, to addiction to drink and drugs, without which she later could not function, will lead to her premature death. And really, from the beginning to the very end, it is a tragic, shocking and even disturbing story about an unhappy, traumatized, fragile and mentally rather unstable woman who was also probably the world’s first sex symbol. What was hidden behind that status and who was actually the woman who had to deal with it, is what interests Dominik and I think he really managed to capture that tragic fate.
Although it is clear to us from the beginning that Marilyn wants fame and that she dreams of being a famous and famous actress, she probably could not have imagined what would happen to her once she reached it. And in what way. We saw how many women and actresses were passing by in Hollywood only a few years ago and that, unfortunately, rape and abuse by the powerful from that industry was the most normal thing and that for years there was silence about it. We can only imagine what happened in this matter at the time when Marilyn was breaking through and what probably many actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood had to go through from these often perverted guys who took advantage of their position.
“Blonde” is extremely interesting both stylistically and narratively. Dominik decided to present this story in a hyper-stylized way, so that some of the pictures are black and white, some are in color, and in addition, the photo formats also change. Also great is Anna de Armas, a young and beautiful Cuban actress who is convincing in the role of probably the greatest and most famous actress of the 20th century, who was an object of sexual desire for men and whom everyone wanted to have for themselves, to save in some way. Dominik himself said that his wish was to tell a kind of fairy tale about a girl from an orphanage who seemed to get lost in the Hollywood forest and not realizing what might be waiting for her there, and he certainly succeeded in that.