San Dieguito Academy Newspaper

“Blonde” Review

Andrew Dominik's new movie "Blonde" is an insult to Marilyn Monroe.

October 27, 2022

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Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in “Blonde”

Andrew Dominik’s new movie “Blonde” starring Ana de Armas claims to be the story of 1950s movie star Marilyn Monroe, but in reality, it is an exploitation of the tragedies and hardships Monroe experienced in her life. 

The movie begins with a young girl named Norma Jeane (Marilyn Monroe) living with her mother Gladys Baker, who suffers from schizophrenia. Dominik makes his first alteration to the story of Monroe’s life right off the bat: Baker is portrayed as an evil figure and a threat to her daughter. Although it is known that Baker was abusive towards Monroe, the film focuses solely on the moments of violence and fear in their relationship. What is left is an inappropriate and inaccurate representation of a person coping with mental illness. In brief scenes from her childhood we see Monroe’s mother hit her in the car as they drive through the Hollywood fires, and force her into a scalding bath and attempt to drown her. Monroe is  subsequently dropped off at an orphanage by her neighbors. 

The rest of Marilyn Monroe’s childhood and teenage years, which she spent jumping in and out of foster homes, is skipped over all together. The movie jumps to her speaking with an acting agent, who rapes her and then gives her a job. This is one of many graphic scenes of Monroe being sexually assaulted, which seems to be the main focus of the movie. No effort is made to humanize Monroe; it appears that in the eyes of Andrew Dominik, she is nothing more than a damaged sex icon. 

“Blonde” covers two of Monroe’s marriages – the first of which is her second husband, former Yankees player Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio’s name, however, never comes up in the movie. Even on the cast list, his character, played by Bobby Cannavale, is called “Ex-Athlete”. It’s as if Dominik didn’t want to ruin DiMaggio’s reputation in the scene where he abuses Monroe, even though he spends three hours tearing Monroe’s life apart. In both of the marriages displayed in the film, Monroe refers to her husbands as “Daddy” so frequently it becomes uncomfortable. In the director’s attempt to remind the audience of Monroe’s absent father during childhood, he presents her lack of a paternal figure as an issue that is her responsibility, not her father’s. 

“Blonde” continues to pile on the sexism with a plethora of pregnancy scenes. In the first, she finds out she is pregnant and seems happy about the news, but the scene switches almost abruptly to her getting an abortion. Dominik takes us to an interesting perspective from inside of Monroe’s cervix as the doctor proceeds with the abortion not once but twice throughout the movie, as if to put the viewer in the position of the baby. She is shown screaming violently and runs out of the operation room in tears. This a mere glint of negativity shined on abortion compared to the scene that follows. The movie presents computer generated images of a hyper-realistic fetus of Monroe’s imagination begging her not to kill it. Dominik’s heavy anti-abortion views are overwhelmingly obvious in this scene, as he illustrates Monroe as an evil murderer of children. 

The blatant misogyny leads viewers to the question: why would someone with clearly negative views about Marilyn Monroe put so much effort into making a movie about her? The answer becomes evident in an LA Times interview with Dominik, where, in response to the question of why he didn’t include any of Monroe’s achievements in the film, he made it clear that the intention of “Blonde” is not to recreate the life of Marilyn Monroe – it is instead a movie about endless suffering and demise, and he used Monroe as an example. 

It doesn’t take too deep of a look to see that “Blonde” is just a reinforcement of the mindless sex icon that 1950’s media created. Unless you’re looking for a misogynistic, sex driven, heavily altered version of Marilyn Monroe’s life from the male point of view , do not watch “Blonde”.

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