‘Blonde’: Boring, trashy montage of sex and abuse

A love letter to trauma. Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe “fantasy” movie, Blonde, is almost three hours of disgusting, insufferable montages of sex and abuse. It feels predatory, lusting after Hollywood’s most enduring sex symbol played by Ana de Armas (Knives Out).

Pegged as a “fictional biography” that is based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Dominik’s pretentious arthouse ‘shocker’ film feels exploitative, a pornish film under the guise of artful, gorgeous cinematography. The sex scenes may not be graphic or explicit, but they evoke a nagging sense that both De Armas and the dead Monroe are being exploited.

ANA de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in ‘Blonde.’ | PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF NETFLIX

In this Netflix movie, which premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival, Norma Jean Baker (Monroe’s birth name) detaches herself from her Hollywood persona as a form of self-preservation.

De Armas delivers a raw, sincere performance, but her role seems inspired by lust and derives pleasure from abuse. Crowded with gratuitous nudity and sex scenes, Blonde romanticizes and glamorizes abuse through artistic shots.

Blonde plays with various aspect ratios and switches between black-and-white and color without reason except for art’s sake. Yes, the “photographs” are stunning — but they are just pretty shots. Beyond the artful framing and color-grading and blocking, Blonde, in essence, is trashy, with a fetish for maltreatment.

Dominik does not even allow De Armas to take the spotlight. If Baz Luhrmann minimizes his directorial excesses to let Austin Butler shine in Elvis, Dominik overpowers Blonde with his indulgences, leaving De Armas overshadowed by his style.

He forces his subject into a place of such abuse, the viewer no longer understands why Monroe skyrocketed to fame, or what made her a legend. Blonde does not humanize Monroe, it victimizes her.

Adrian Brody and Ana De Armas in ‘Blonde.’


Biopics of legendary historical figures, even if “fictionalized,” attempt to present a balanced portrait of the subject. While it is common knowledge that Monroe had a sad and tragic life, Dominik does not care for balance and opts to focus only on the depressing side of Monroe’s life. Considering Blonde is classified as a “fictional biopic,” the director clearly took too many liberties with his dark excesses. For what?

Blonde has sodomy, oral sex, daddy issues, drugs, and a constant display of De Armas’ breasts. It’s a boring kaleidoscope of a horrifically abused victim in a Marilyn Monroe sexpot costume.

0.5 out of 5 stars

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