Blonde (2022) ☆☆(2/4): A miserable bore

It has been known well that Marilyn Monroe was a very unhappy woman, and Netflix film “Blonde” is relentlessly and tediously emphasizes that miserable aspect to our disgust and boredom. Its heavily fictional story surely intends to show how much Monroe was abused and exploited throughout her short life and career, but the result only ends up being ironically quite distasteful and exploitative, and that only leaves a merely depressing impression on us without much insight on Monroe’s humanity or personality.

During its early part, the movie depicts Monroe’s deeply problematic childhood years. When her rather mentally unstable mother was finally sent to a mental hospital after one incident of domestic abuse between them, young Monroe, played by Lily Fisher, hoped that her father, who left her and her mother around the time when she was born, would come back to take her, but, alas, her hope was soon broken cruelly, and that was just the prelude to many other miserable moments she had to endure during her life.

Several years later, Monroe, who is now played by Ana de Armas, grows up to become a young new model looking for any chance for her movie acting career in New York City, and what follows next is pretty ugly to say the least. As demanded by her agent, she goes to a certain powerful Hollywood figure who does not hesitate to rape her in his private office, and she soon comes to get a small but significant supporting role in a famous Oscar-winning classic film produced by that figure. Thanks to her considerable charm and presence, it does not take much time for her to become a next new Hollywood star actress, but she is not so pleased when her success is not appreciated that much by her mother, who is still in her mental hospital as before.

Meanwhile, Monroe’s private life becomes messy as she unwisely lets herself exploited by two guys who lure her into a kinky threesome relationship among them and her. Her agent advises her that she should not get involved more with these two guys, but she cannot help herself just because she feels a bit more alive whenever she hangs around them, though it is clear to us from the beginning that they are using her innocence as much as her agent. She always needs somebody to lean on, and they gladly provide some comfort while taking advantage of her at times.

However, her relationship with these two guys does not end that well when Monroe gets pregnant later. At first, Monroe wants to have a baby, but then she becomes quite conflicted when there comes a chance to advance her movie acting career. What follows next is a rather graphically nightmarish sequence showing her subsequent abortion process, and I am depressed to report that this is merely vulgar and repulsive instead of being dramatically devastating – especially when it briefly shows some very unpleasant anatomical details of the abortion process.

Some time later, Monroe encounters another figure to whom she is helplessly attracted, and that is Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale), a famous baseball player who has recently retired. Because he looks like the one who can take care of her longtime daddy issue as your average alpha male, Monroe says yes to his proposal, but, alas, she belatedly comes to realize how violent and abusive he can be, and we naturally get another painful moment to watch.

Shortly after her marriage to DiMaggio was ended, Monroe happens to meet Arthur Miller (Adrian Brody), a legendary Broadway playwright who comes across at a small read-through event for his latest work. He is not so impressed at first, but he finds himself attracted to Monroe as talking with more with her, and he looks like someone to provide a stable private life for her. Once they get married, everything seems to be fine for both of them for a while, but, of course, the situation soon becomes quite problematic mainly due to Monroe’s fragile mental condition.

After that narrative point, the screenplay by director/writer Andrew Dominik, which is based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, goes further into more misery and exploitation. With no one to stand by her, Monroe tumbles into more neurosis and depression, and she also lets herself exploited by the most powerful political figure in US. The movie thankfully goes for the graphic details of this sickening moment, but it is still quite disturbing and disgusting enough to earn its NC-17 rating in my inconsequential opinion.

These and many other things in the film are packaged with frequent artsy touches including the occasional changes in screen ratio, and the overall impression is hollow at best and repulsive at worst. As I reflect more on what I observed from the film, it becomes more apparent that the movie objectifies its heroine’s numerous miseries without any care or empathy at all, and that accordingly wastes the fairly good efforts of de Armas, who was incidentally Oscar-nominated for her work here in this film on last Tuesday. Yes, she flawlessly immerses herself into her iconic character, but her admirable acting is often limited by many superficial aspects of Dominick’s screenplay, and that is really a shame.

In conclusion, “Blonde” is a misguided artistic misfire which tires and bores us throughout its overlong running time (166 minutes) without any sense of reward. As my late mentor/friend Roger Ebert said, no good movie is depressing while all bad movies are depressing, and this is surely a prime example of how depressing a bad film can be.

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1 Response to Blonde (2022) ☆☆(2/4): A miserable bore

  1. Pingback: My Prediction on the 95th Academy Awards | Seongyong's Private Place

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