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  • Jennifer Green

Review: "Blonde"

Director Andrew Dominik has crafted an ambitious and daring but overly long fictionalized biopic centered around a remarkable lead performance from Ana de Armas.


Dominik clearly intended for Blonde to overwhelm and even feel cruel at times, ostensibly to mirror the life experiences of the fictionalized Marilyn Monroe/Norma Jean. De Armas is excellent in the role, embodying Marilyn to a tee. If anyone complains about her (very slight) Cuban accent, just remind them of the countless times American actors have played other nationalities.


But this Monroe is essentially one-note: she's anxious, vulnerable, emotionally tortured, always unsatisfied, abused, and misunderstood. She moves from man to man (calling them all "daddy") and seems on the constant verge of a nervous breakdown.


Many scenes in Blonde are both fantastical and intentionally provocative. The film is narratively and visually inventive, including a sex scene where bodies appear to be floating, stretching, and melting, or camera angles meant to be looking out from inside a vagina or a toilet.


Camera angles, focus, color, and sound all conjure Marilyn's mindset and mood. Some of these techniques are quite effective and memorable, others just feel showy and more about form than content.


Ultimately, for the viewer, less would have been more. At almost three hours long, the exercise is exhausting. Perhaps we are meant to feel as disoriented and drained as this fictionalized Marilyn, who asks where dreams end and madness begins?

 

Read the full review at Common Sense Media.

Images courtesy of Netflix.




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