*Spoilers Ahead and Trigger Warning: This article contains spoilers from Marilyn Monroe’s biopic “Blonde.” Abortion, domestic violence and drug addiction are also mentioned.
The nearly three-hour-long biopic “Blonde” took me on a bitter journey through Norma Jeane Mortenson’s life, better known as Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas). This is a very unorthodox biopic because it was clearly her life through the male gaze, rather than her own. Based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, “Blonde” showed the ugly truth behind the beautiful blonde hair and scarlet red lips.
This movie was filmed beautifully, to say the least. The transitions were more than impressive, such as a bed full of lust seamlessly turning into a waterfall from a scene in one of Monroe’s movies being shown in a cinema. The use of foggy spotlighting made a lot of her life seem like a fantasy, even though it was far from one. If the movie had been filmed any less impeccably than it was, I’m afraid it wouldn’t have been as interesting. I thought I would be unimpressed with the length of this movie, but I was hooked. The melancholic tone did get tiring, but I knew it was because sadness is all Monroe ever knew, even when every woman in the world wanted to be as beautiful as her.
I was taken aback by how good the symbolism is in “Blonde,” such as Monroe’s makeup always being perfect, and only messed up during sex, meaning the objectification of her and her body created a path to failure for her from the start. The best symbolism, though, was the use of both black-and-white and color throughout the film. When Norma Jeane was being herself, the scenes were in warm-toned color. But when Norma was in character as Marilyn, the scenes were colorless. This helped me stay on track and showed me how much she had to channel a new persona for her (mostly male) fans. As time went on, the black-and-white consumed the color in the movie, just as the Marilyn Monroe persona consumed Norma Jeane. Within the last hour, the scenes were only in color when she read the letters her father wrote or spoke to the only former lover who saw her as Norma, Eddy (Evan Williams).
I didn’t enjoy a lot of the more serious scenes, but I believe Andrew Dominik did this on purpose when directing “Blonde.” For example, abortion is never easy to portray or watch in film or television. But Dominik managed to make it worse by actually having it look like the camera was inside of Monroe’s body during the procedure. And during the scenes of arguments between Monroe as a child (Lily Fisher) and her mother, the very realistic abuse made me turn away from the screen, like when her mother was attempting to drown her in the bathtub. I disliked how triggering these moments were, but later understood this showed how much Monroe went through behind the scenes of fortune and fame. She still craved attention when she was the most desired woman on the silver screen. My heart broke for her as I realized she only wanted attention from the man who never paid it to her: her father.
This movie surprisingly has some bad reviews. A lot of them said “Blonde” exposed Marilyn Monroe in a negative light and was a brutal take on a beautiful life. But everything listed in these bad reviews was what made me admire the movie. I think it’s important to show how women were (and are) treated in the film industry, taken advantage of because of their beauty, and never appreciated for their full potential. The only con of the movie that I had is because there are so many computer-generated scenes and effects, it’s unknown how accurate a lot of these moments were compared to Monroe’s life. Some moments were terrifying but ethereal, such as her death and empty love affairs. But all in all, “Blonde” was amazingly filmed to the point of tears shed, anger and heartbreak for the one and only Marilyn Monroe.
“Blonde” is available for streaming on Netflix.
By Amena Ahmed