- Written and Directed by Andrew Dominik
- September 8, 2022 (Venice) / September 16, 2022 (US) / September 28, 2022 (Netflix)
- Based on the 2000 novel Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
A fictionalized version of the life and times of Marilyn Monroe.
I am a fan of Marilyn Monroe. I became one after watching some of her films and realized the image she has in popular culture is far from what she was capable of up on the silver screen. She was a very talented actress that could do drama and comedy with equal skill. Maybe not the greatest actress of all time but she was vastly more talented than people want to give her credit for.
More often than not the media wishes to portray her as a breathlessly voiced sex pot with little to no depth or ability but given what she was able to do in films such as Some Like It Hot or Niagara or even River of No Return she was so much more than that. So I went into Blonde with mediocre to high expectations. I understood it was a fictionalized telling of Marilyn Monroe’s life so I didn’t expect much truth but rather an engaging story.
There was certainly a lot of hoopla around Blonde. There is some controversy as well as some praise as well as detractors. At the minimum it told me it had something to say and had put forth something worthy of talking about at the bare minimum.
That was a lie!
In full disclosure I did not get through the full length of Blonde. Of the 900 or so films and television shows that I have discussed on here I think this could quite possibly be only the second one I’ve ended up discussing that I did not complete viewing. The other was The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
This is a lot of talking but not a great deal happening. It’s just slow and plodding and at nearly three hours there is just way too much here that is empty and moves nothing forward. I have watched three-hour films before and been glued to my seat most of if not the entire time I’m watching them. They had something happening in each and every scene. That just doesn’t happen here.
I appreciate the attempt at being dialogue heavy and having a stylized presentation but such things do not make up for not having too much in the movie. Andrew Dominik had trouble deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. So much was left in here and it just drew things out to the point of being boring. How do you turn a story about one of the silver screen’s biggest icons into a slow and boring narrative? You give it to this director and base it on a book by Joyce Carol Oates.
Don’t get me wrong. Blonde is beautiful look at. Then again so are dozens of other movies. But being pretty to look at does not mean interesting to watch. Pretty to look at is a bonus of a good film. The Quiet Man and any number of Westerns are beautiful to look but that doesn’t automatically make them good movies. The story presented along with the acting are what makes them good movies. And the acting is certainly good here. I don’t fault them for that. Ana de Armas and company certainly do good work but good acting in a bad film still makes a bad film and this certainly is it.
In what I did get through the I got to the ‘controversial’ ‘anti-abortion’ scene. At least I think it was the scene everybody has been up in arms over as I have heard more about its existence than I have heard about what exactly occurred in it. Anywho, I can’t find what the big deal is. It certainly isn’t central to the story and it is a small character moment in the overall film. Heck, near as I can tell it’s not even the message of the movie whatever that message may have been. Ultimately the complaints were a lot of hype over a very minor portion of the overall narrative.
And what is the narrative goal here? What type of story is it trying to portray? Does Blonde know what it is or wishes to be? It is certainly a work of historical fiction but is that all? Some movies intend to be of the so bad they’re good variety. Others aim to scare. Some are good versus evil. This is a fictionalized version of the life of Marilyn Monroe and aims to tell a story of Marilyn Monroe. So why not just go biographical?
It’s not even a dramatization of actual events but rather they slap the names of real people on original characters and original events. They certainly had something they wanted to tell and they decided to use the credibility of someone real to boost that. Perhaps things would’ve been much better if they had simply used fake names.
Blonde is a well-directed but ultimately boring Marilyn Monroe centered film that is a disservice to the legend. Not because it’s a work of fiction but because it is so incredibly boring. This just is not worth watching on any level.