A review of the controversial new movie “Blonde”

Both written and directed by Australian Andrew Dominik, he must have known that this would be a controversial work and probably wanted it to be so.

Based on Joyce Carol Oates’s fictional biography of American actress and icon Marilyn Monroe, it has been described as a pseudo-biographical psychological drama because, while the film captures many well-known scenes from Monroe’s life with an accuracy that makes them look almost as if they are from contemporary filming, there is so much speculation and interpretation of her complicated life and so much darkness and flashiness in the camerawork that one critic (Mark Kemonde) has described it as less a bio-pic and more a horror movie.

The central performance is outstanding as Cuban actress Ana de Armas looks and sounds so much like Monroe and movingly portrays a rich palette of emotions. Also the work is immensely stylish: most of the film is in black and white and there are shifting aspect ratios and at times deliberate blurring and fuzziness. Unusually for a work released on a streaming service (Netflix), it has the toughest rating because of its graphic sexual content.

So this is not a film for everyone: it is long (almost three hours), it is slow and it is disturbing. It is not a film for devoted fans of Monroe: it invents so much and arguably is exploitative. But, as cinema, it is a tour de force: innovative and powerful.


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