Entertainment A brutal journey through the life of a Hollywood icon: Blonde review

Entertainment A brutal journey through the life of a Hollywood icon: Blonde review

A brutal journey through the life of a Hollywood icon: Blonde review

Blonde: key information

– Available now on Netflix
– A fictionalised retelling of the life of Marilyn Monroe
– Based on Joyce Carole Oates’ novel of the same name
– Written and directed by Andrew Dominik, of Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford fame
– Knives Out and No Time to Die’s Ana de Armas stars as Marilyn Monroe

There’s a certain irony that Netflix, one of the most significant disruptors in movie history, should bankroll a film so steeped in Hollywood legend. Marilyn Monroe’s all-too-brief life may have been over by the time Sean Connery first introduced himself as “Bond, James Bond”, or the Beatles released their debut single, but she remains one of pop culture’s greatest icons, arguably more famous than any of the films she appeared in.

For more than half a century, Marilyn has transcended traditional notions of celebrity, a star who – like fellow 2022 biopic subject Elvis Presley – is recognizable simply from her first name. She’s a contradiction, a person both instantly recognisable and impossible to truly know – even though her public and private personas were, to most of the world inseparable. We’re talking levels of fame where the basics of the protagonist’s life-story are so ubiquitous that the standard “person does x, person does y” biopic narratives become mundane. This is also the reason why Blonde’s wilful blurring of the lines between fact and fiction makes it a better movie.

Interestingly, writer/director Andrew Dominik (who has previous biopic form with the brilliant Chopper (2000) didn’t turn to the usual reference books to tell Marilyn’s story. Instead, he adapted Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel Blonde, a fictionalized account of the star’s lifetime in the Hollywood spotlight. This is Hollywood history as an auteur’s vision, not quite an alternative-universe take in the vein of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but a story willing to move people and places around in the name of advancing the narrative. It’s as much the story of an icon as the story of a human being, and throughout its close-to-three-hour runtime, Blonde makes the distinction between Marilyn Monroe and the actual Norma Jeane Baker, as if the former is a tragic superhero alter-ego.

Ana de Armas in Blonde

(Image credit: © 2022 Netflix)

Bending the truth

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