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Netflix’s Blonde – A difficult and unneeded fictionalization of Monroe’s life

By: Robert Prentice
Netflix

Netflix has joined the bandwagon of telling the story of Marilyn Monroe, but this time taking the fictionalized route following a book by the same name, written by Joyce Carol Oates. This NC-17 Netflix film has received a lot of headlines including possible award contention for lead actress Ana de Armas playing the lead role of Monroe.

This fictional portrait of Marilyn Monroe boldly reimagines the tumultuous private life of the Hollywood legend — and the price she paid for fame. Discover a life both known and unknown in this boldly imaginative film from Writer and Director Andrew Dominik that explores the complicated life of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. Based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde, starring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Xavier Samuel, and Julianne Nicholson premieres on Netflix September 28.

Review

Netflix’s NC-17 Blonde is a difficult watch. Marilyn Monroe’s story was never an easy one to begin with, but this fictionalized version of her story, based on a book of the same name, goes beyond the normal difficult to watch and takes it up a notch. In many cases, names were omitted from the film for reasons unknown. Though we could guess it was to prevent getting sued. So when we get to Ms. Monroe’s relationship with a ‘president’ its very clear who it is based on the way the actor portrayed them but he is never mentioned by his name. This is true of other celebrity persons who arrive in Monroe’s life throughout the film.

Unless you do a minimal amount of research about her life, you are left unsure which parts are fiction and real (outside of the bizarre head trips). The film changes aspect ratios many times to give us different points of view of her state of mind throughout her life, but frankly it becomes increasingly distracting to the story and in many cases makes no sense. The film did make decent use of black and white versus color to focus key moments on important details.

In the end, there is no real value to this film in informing watchers of Monroe’s life or providing any closure around the same either. Everything covered the public already knows. The fiction outweighs the fact in this film to the point that we walk away wondering why the film was made in the first place. One thing is factual out of this, Marilyn Monroe had a difficult and unhappy life growing up and a lot of those insecurities reflected themselves in her adulthood. The NC-17 rating was given due to graphic scenes that frankly were not needed in the film at all, but are sextual in nature. There is also non-consensual sex scenes and heavy visuals on the reported abortions she had throughout her life, so be warned going in that the film covers heavy material.

Now for awards discussions going on for the film, Ana de Arma’s is stunning as Monroe in the film. It is very likely this role will put her in award contention this fall based on films out so far this year. Blonde dropped into select theatres already but will drop fully on Netflix 9/28.

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