Netflix 'Blonde' Review: Ana de Armas shines with career-defining performance in a deeply divisive pic
Even 60 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe is considered to be one of the most iconic figures in Hollywood and if you’d follow her professional career, you’ll get to know how much she was loved during the 1950s and early 1960s. However, her life was not as sparkling as people thought it was. In the Netflix movie ‘Blonde’, there’s a scene when Monroe (Ana de Armas) is seen getting ready for an event and all the people assisting her tell her that they will do anything to live a life like Marilyn. The look on Marilyn’s face gives you an idea of how sad her life actually was. However, ‘Blonde’ tends to present Marilyn as someone who has been exploited all her life and didn’t have a single moment of happiness.
Based on the novel written by Joyce Carol Oates, the movie is a fictionalized take on Monroe’s life and shows all the hardships she went through all her life. The movie seems to be similar to last year’s ‘Spencer’ in only one aspect and captures the horror of a renowned person’s life. But that’s the only similarity these two movies have because ‘Spencer’ was a mixture of a lot of stuff, including happiness and nightmares. However, ‘Blonde’ shows the misery of a woman who was betrayed and abused in almost all phases of her life. When Marilyn was a child, she was abused by her mother and when she started in Hollywood, she was abused by one of the producers after that day, the abuse never stopped.
The movie primarily focuses on her relationships and how she was unable to keep her life together behind the camera. We get glimpses of her married life with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, but we never get to hear their names in the movie. DiMaggio is referred to as an Ex-Athlete while Miller is called a Playwright. On the other hand, Dominik didn’t shy away from naming Cass Chaplin (Xavier Samuel) and Eddy Robinson Jr (Evan Williams) and how they had such a long “sexual” relationship with the actress. One of the most disturbing aspects of the movie is how she keeps on calling her lovers "Daddy." When she was young, her mother showed her a picture of her father and said he can’t see her right now. Throughout the movie, she keeps on searching for her father and seems to have a lot of “Daddy” issues, which is really unsettling.
Ana de Armas had a very big responsibility of embodying Monroe’s mannerisms, personality, and even gestures. The trailer gave us a glimpse of how magnificent she was looking as the iconic figure, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. From the very first frame, she’ll take you away with her innocence, her huge eyes, her heart-melting smile, and her impeccable acting. The way she transforms from Norma Jean, a traumatized woman, to the enigmatic Marilyn Monroe by putting aside her pain is ridiculously good and that’s when you feel that the makers could have given some time to show us more of Marilyn’s life where she was genuinely happy. This is a career-defining performance for Armas and she carries the entire movie on her shoulder with elegance.
There are no doubts that there will be extreme reactions to this movie. Some people would love it to the core, but others will feel that it is exploitative. Perhaps, Dominik did that deliberately and made a film that’s really provocative. When the movie ends, as viewers, you tend to think if this is what you really wanted to see in a movie based on Marilyn’s life, and it takes time to fully understand that it’s just a “fictionalized” take on a famous woman’s life. Nevertheless, ‘Blonde’ does a perfect job of keeping you hooked to your screens. Whether it was Armas’ magnetic performance or the sequences where Marilyn is going through some of the worst phases of her life, you don’t feel like pausing the movie and making room for something else.
‘Blonde’ is a deeply disturbing movie that delves deeper into Monroe’s internal battle and that was exactly what Dominik wanted to show. Did he manage to do that? Well, he surely did.