Blonde ★★★

Ana de Armas shines as a tragic heroine trying to knife her way out of the Hollywood underbelly. She is undeniable in what is a grueling, dark cloud of a movie. Ana perfectly walks the tightrope of capturing Marilyn Monroe’s essence (almost like she’s superimposed) without ever feeling like a poor imitation. She is especially electric during her dinner date with DiMaggio.

Sadly, the writing is a bit clunky and wastes the disconnect between her celebrity and psyche on a pseudo psychology whose self-indulgence never feels fully earned. Blonde loses me when Norma spends most of the second half as a vessel with a dormant soul. It doesn’t fire on all cylinders but parts of it redeem the whole; the film has a uniquely strong sense of style and cinematography which it marries with a celestial score. The moments that attempt to breathe some life into her character are few and far between but do charm when they are allowed to happen (her love for her craft, the swirly relationship with the juniors, and her interlude spent with Miller). For every brash swing that succeeds, there is a swerve that fails (the salacious JFK scene).

Blonde sets out to perturb at the expense of its MacGuffin’d central character but it definitely touched me in other ways I didn’t expect. I have to give it props for being overblown, so much so that it rattled me enough to write an actual review for it. It didn’t totally unfurl the way I wanted it to but I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.

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