Netflix’southward new Marilyn Monroe moving-picture show
has arrived, and it may exist 2022’s most controversial film. Here’s everything to know about the movie and why it’s dividing critics:
How much of ‘Blonde’ is true?
Ana de Armas stars every bit Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s
Blonde, merely the movie is far from a traditional biopic. It’south based not on a biography, only on a novel past Joyce Carol Oates. Netflix described the film as taking “dramatic license with her life,” featuring existent historical figures simply also “amalgams of people she might have known.”
imagines Monroe to take been in a throuple with the sons of Charlie Chaplin and Edward G. Robinson, i of whom is implied to have contributed to her apparent suicide. Several graphic sex scenes between the iii are featured, but there is no evidence a throuple actually happened as depicted in the film. Near controversially, the climax of the film involves President John F. Kennedy sexually assaulting Monroe, who is then kidnapped and forced to have an abortion in a sequence that, again, is totally imagined.
Blonde isn’t completely fictional, as it likewise draws on true aspects of Monroe’s life, including the fact that she married Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller (listed in the credits as “Ex-Athlete” and “The Playwright,” respectively); that her father wasn’t present; and that her mother suffered from schizophrenia, though another scene invented for the picture shows her mother attempting to kill Marilyn in a bathtub when there is no evidence this event occurred.
What is so controversial about ‘Blonde’?
Note: This section contains descriptions of graphic sexual violence depicted in the picture show.
is a relentlessly bleak and punishing motion-picture show focused almost entirely on showing the suffering inflicted on Monroe over its 2-and-one-half-hour runtime. It’southward rated NC-17 for its graphic sexual content and has sparked criticism past those who find information technology exploitative and disrespectful to the extra’ legacy.
For one, an early sequence sees Monroe enter an audition with a man unsaid to exist 20th Century Fox studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck, who forces her to become on the flooring, pulls downwards her apparel, and rapes her while she cries. (This is some other scene the movie invented.)
Later, Secret Service agents drag Monroe to President John F. Kennedy after she has taken pills and become disoriented. Kennedy forces her to perform oral sexual activity on him while he’s lying in bed on the phone, aggressively pushing her head toward his crotch. A shut-up of Monroe giving Kennedy oral sex lasts more than a minute every bit he calls her a “dingy slut,” and a visibly distressed Monroe thinks to herself, “You accept to swallow. You have to consume.” The motion picture zooms out to show this oral sex scene existence watched in a pic theater.
Afterward, Kennedy grabs Monroe and throws her onto the bed, placing his paw over her mouth every bit she screams. The scene cuts to her waking upward in bed and puking every bit Secret Service agents drag her abroad, implying she was raped by Kennedy. She is subsequently kidnapped in the center of the night and forced to take an ballgame. Monroe wakes upward covered in blood the following morning and overdoses not long after. (The pic doesn’t specifically identify the president as being Kennedy and lists him as “The President” in the credits, simply it’south clearly meant to be him.)
Many other scenes show Monroe topless, including ane in which her husband, implied to be Joe DiMaggio, beats her later discovering explicit photos of her; he physically abuses her again minutes afterwards, calling her a “f–king whore.” Monroe is depicted as being severely emotionally damaged by the absence of her begetter in her life, so she calls DiMaggio and other men “daddy” repeatedly in many scenes.
There are also multiple consensual sex scenes with Charles Chaplin Jr. and Edward G. Robinson Jr. An explicit one early on shows them having a threesome, and they take a sexual encounter in public in a movie theatre, with Monroe loudly moaning every bit the trailer for 1 of her films plays.
Outside of the sexual content, the movie includes multiple graphic depictions of miscarriages and abortions, and two different abortion scenes are shot from inside Monroe’south vagina. The first one sees Monroe modify her mind most the abortion at the last minute, but she is forced to have it, while in the second scene, she receives an abortion unwillingly while she’s barely conscious. She also has a miscarriage after tripping and falling.
In multiple scenes, the movie also depicts Monroe’due south fetus, which she imagines speaking to her in a baby’s voice. “You won’t hurt me this time, will y’all?” the CGI fetus asks her, referring to her abortion earlier in the motion picture. She tells the fetus that “you lot’re not the same baby,” only it responds, “That was me. It’s always me.” These scenes have led some critics to argue the motion-picture show is pro-life.
is a horrific, tone-deafened reminder of why a female person perspective should exist included, or at to the lowest degree asked for, when writing about abortion,”
IndieWire‘due south Samantha Bergeson argued.
What have critics said about the film?
The movie has sharply divided critics, some of whom have praised it as powerful and argued that the uncomfortable viewing feel is the whole bespeak, while others have panned it as ane-note and outright fell.
The New Yorker, Richard Brody described
Blonde‘s “relentless torments” as “directorial sadism,” panning it for its “cheap sentiment, brazen tastelessness, and sexual exploitation.” Similarly, the
Chicago Sunday-Times‘ Richard Roeper called the movie “deadline sadistic” and an “acidic, exploitative, vulgar nightmare,” and at NPR, Justin Chang wrote it “dwells on [Monroe’s] pain so obsessively” that its “empathy feels like some other grade of exploitation.”
Some have argued the film does a disservice to Monroe by skipping over many aspects of her life that would show her as having more agency and painted a fuller movie of her every bit a person in favor of focusing only on her suffering. The fact that she founded a production visitor is not mentioned, for example.
But other critics have come away from
Vulture‘s Bilge Ebiri writing that the film is “beautiful, mesmerizing, and, at times, securely moving,” while
The Associated Press‘ Jocelyn Noveck called it “bruising and often beautiful.”
What has the director said?
Dominik has addressed the criticism in interviews, some of which have only sparked further criticism.
The Associated Press‘ Lindsey Bahr, Dominik argued the film isn’t exploitative. “Suffering is not exploitative, because it’due south not titillating,” he said. In an interview with
The Wrap, he addressed claims that the flick is pro-life, saying that while some critics are looking at it “through this
Roe v. Wade
lens,” it’s “not really about that.” Speaking to
Borderline, Dominik as well argued Monroe “clearly wasn’t in control of her life,” like the movie portrays, arguing, “Whatever person that’south killing themselves is non a effigy of female empowerment.”
In an interview with
Sight and Sound, announcer Christina Newland questioned the fact thatBlonde
ignores how Monroe “formed her own production company, or that she was involved in opposing the anti-communist witch-hunts past the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s,” and other aspects of her life. In response, Dominik said the moving-picture show is non about that but “about a person who is going to be killing themself,” and then his interest was to “examine the reasons why they did that,” calling Monroe an “extraordinarily self-destructive” person.
Newland shared a cut portion of this interview on Twitter, in which Dominik also argued “nobody really watches” Monroe’south movies and was surprised to larn Newland watches 1953’due south
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
regularly. “What is it about it?” Dominik asked, before controversially describing the classic film as being near “well-dressed whores.” He also suggested Monroe’due south functioning of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in that movie is an case of “romanticized whoredom.”
The quotes attracted farther criticism of Dominik ahead of
Blonde‘s release, with critic Kayleigh Donaldson tweeting that he seemed “openly cynical towards the woman he made an entire motion picture about,” while critic Dana Stevens suggested Dominik views Monroe as “a glorified whore who is interesting only for her suffering.”
De Armas has likewise drawn some criticism for comments she’s made promoting the motion picture, including when she said she felt the presence of Monroe on set and claimed the late actress was “blessing of what we were doing.”
Does the pic take any Oscar fizz?
De Armas was once seen equally a strong candidate to exist nominated for All-time Actress, and some pundits notwithstanding think this is possible, equally even the motion-picture show’s detractors have praised her performance. Just the fact that the movie itself is so polarizing and upsetting has fabricated that less probable.
Ultimately, it will come up down to whether the University agrees with
Blonde‘s critics that in trying to condemn the exploitation of Marilyn Monroe, Dominik has only exploited her again.
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