Blonde ★★★


Here's the thing: it's definitely not as disrespectful or exploitative or demeaning as all the early noise made it sound like. The film holds Marilyn as a misunderstood, lost, naive soul who, as the film's tagline says, was watched by all and yet seen by none. And there's no holds barred from a technical standpoint when it comes to the storytelling; Dominik is of course a visual and audial master.

The problem, however, arises from the fact that the utmost tragedy of her life is never really felt over the butt-numbing 3 hour runtime. We learn things about Norma Jeane, we see them, we're horrified by these things, but they fail to elicit a reaction beyond "oh man, isn't that awful?". It's fairly obvious (especially after recent interviews) that Andrew Dominik didn't want to make a Marilyn Monroe biopic. He wanted to make a biopic about what she represented in the grand scheme of American culture. But even on that front I don't think the film really succeeds that well, because if it was about anyone else except Marilyn, it would still be just as boring and terribly overlong.

This all makes it sound like I hated this movie but that's far from the case. There are many parts I really did love. Ana is obviously spectacular and luminous. It's a bravura performance that should be applauded for years to come. The supporting players, especially Adrien Brody, are all up to the mark. Obviously the cinematography is stunning. And the biggest accomplishment of the film is the stylistic moodpiece feel it achieves. But ultimately it boils down to nothing more than a museum walkthrough of Marilyn's life; beautiful images, but you can come up with a better movie in your head than whatever's going on onscreen.

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