Blonde (Andrew Dominik, 2022, USA)

Blonde is the latest film by Australian auteur Andrew Dominik. Dominik is perhaps best known for another deconstruction of an American icon, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. In the last decade or so he has released two documentaries about Nick Cave, but Blonde marks his return to narrative filmmaking. Working from a novel by Joyce Carol Oates (and one she has cited as her most essential), Blonde is a semi-fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe, spanning almost three hours. The film does not make any pretense to be factually accurate but incorporates many well-known aspects of her life, including her romantic relationships with Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, and J.F.K.

Ana de Armas stars as Monroe, and it is remarkable how much she appears like the Hollywood icon in some scenes. Dominik and cinematographer Chayse Irvin faithfully reconstruct famous images of the starlet, including scenes from her movies such as Gentleman Prefer Blondes. The film's non-traditional narrative is mirrored in its aesthetic choices, jumping from black and white to color, and experimenting with different aspect ratios and visual effects. De Armas provides the emotional core of the film, although the vision of Monroe on display here is one of constant suffering.

Blonde has primarily been criticized for not bringing anything new to our perspective on Marilyn Monroe, but perhaps this wasn't the film's intention after all. The film works best as a parable about the dark side of Hollywood, and it's no coincidence that the film's score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis echoes Angelo Badalamenti's score for David Lynch's similar tale of the dark side of the Hollywood dream - Mulholland DriveBlonde is a flawed film with some spectacular visuals and interesting moments and certainly is worth visiting and not dismissing as some critics have done.



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