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Blonde - Goodbye Norma Jean

Blonde, the heavily fictionalized Marilyn Monroe biopic which premiered on Netflix this week, has the dubious distinction of being the first ever NC-17 rated movie on streaming.

I’m not sure what such a rating even means any more in a streaming and Internet world where anything and everything is available to everyone including children.

Like the rest of this lengthy (2 hr 47 min) ghastly, exploitative, traumatizing, harrowing but above all, boring movie, the rating could easily have been avoided by cutting/editing one scene involving Marilyn and President Kennedy. I guess the film maker is trying to make a point about unbridled fame (she is synonymous with sensuality even today 60 years after her death and to generations that never saw her alive) and the price one has to pay for it but says it in the most muddled and confused fashion. (As an interesting coincidence, she was born the same year as Queen Elizabeth, and what a different perspective we have of the two women, one permanently frozen as eternal beauty at the age of 36, and the other, well just eternal).

The only saving grace is the performance by Ana de Armas (Knives Out (2019), No Time to Die (2021)). She gets Marilyn’s throaty whisper and mannerisms down to a T. The re-enactments of her scenes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like it Hot (1959) are picture perfect. Bobby Cannavale as first husband, baseball player Joe Di Maggio and Adrien Brody as second husband, playwright Arthur Miller give able support.

But unfortunately none of the performances nor the various cinematic tricks like changing aspect ratios or transitions from color to black and white and back can hold up the meandering narrative.

It seems the movie received a 14 minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival. All I can say to that is that Venice needs to drown itself !

October 1, 2022

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