- Gareth Crook
Blonde (2022) - 2/10
Blonde is nearly 3 hours long. Monroe is a pop culture icon with an interesting story behind her, but does it really need 3 hours to tell? Short answer, no, it doesn’t. I know a little about Marilyn Monroe, the usual stuff picked up over the years. If you’re after revealing and insightful detail, you’re wasting your time here. It’s all surface. It does look good in places and it tries hard, but as we’re introduced to young Norma Jeane played by Lily Fisher, with her unhinged mother in a barren Hollywood house, it all feels a bit cheap and disposable. The acting is pretty ropey too, unbelievable and quite frankly the opening scenes don’t make a whole lot of sense. This I’m sorry to say is only going to get worse. A ridiculous and lazy transition launches us from young Norma’s nightmare childhood to her equally disturbing young adulthood. Being raped at castings and generally used by the patrilocal Hollywood machine. It’s not helped by having a cast of largely dislikable characters, but it’s worst enemy is it’s pacing. I’m all up for slow lingering shots and thought provoking arthouse cinema. That’s what this feels like it’s going for, but it fails spectacularly. Ana de Armas is the blonde iconic Monroe. She looks right, sounds right, with that breathy delivery. What’s the point of this biopic though, surely it’s an opportunity to try and depict a more rounded legacy, give her some personality. Instead all we get is caricature. Who knows, maybe that’s all Jeane was, but I doubt it and if it were, why bother with this at all, never mind dragging it out over 3 sodding hours. There is something in Monroe’s struggles with mental health. This does feel valuable, but again it’s handled with the subtlety of the tabloid press. Of course she was a sex symbol. Still is I guess, eternally frozen and seemingly damned to be nothing more. That’s all we get from this. As we drift through faint wafts of her early career it feels as vapid as a perfume advert. It does nothing for my theory that all Netflix financed films are inherently shit. When I see something like this, I can’t help but wonder, did they know on set that it was bad, could they tell? or has this simply failed in the edit suite. I very much doubt it, even though this appears to be Adam Robinson’s debut feature, I’m not sure he or anyone else in post could fix this. The blame surely stops with writer and director Andrew Dominik. It seems the $22 million budget went to his head. Quite frankly he should be ashamed. Most surprisingly is the attachment of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on score duties. Their music is good as you’d expect, but feels rather clunkerly deployed. There is some really gorgeous Lynchian tinged stuff buried in there though, mostly towards the end as Monroe is shown to unravel. It’s amusing how Joe DiMaggio is only referred to as the ‘Ex-Athlete’ and JFK just ‘The President’. I assume the interested parties saw an early cut and wanted no part of it, I’m not surprised in Kennedy’s case! Even Adrian Brody can’t save it as Arthur Miller… sorry ‘The Playwright’. The scenes with de Armas do at least have some coherence, but it’s far too little, far too late. I feel sorry for Ana de Armas, she puts a shift in and this films many failures are not her fault. This is an indulgent exploitative nauseous diatribe. Truly awful. I’ve watched every minute, so you don’t have to.