Jungfrau Zeitung – Lots of fanfare about “Blonde”

movie review | October 9, 2022

No sooner had Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe’s “Blonde” celebrated its famous Cannes premiere than the controversy began. Now the nearly three-hour saga can be watched on Netflix, director Andrew Dominic’s criticism of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel doesn’t want to fade. The mixture has lengths and is sometimes annoying. The tape paints the image of a shy woman with little self-confidence, who hardly corresponds to reality to such an extent. The biopic about the screen legend could have been a lot smarter, also due to the brilliant performance of actress Ana de Armas in the title role of a star who died at a very young age.

Deceptively true: Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe in the thriller Niagara, originally filmed in 1953.Photo: Keystone/AP/Netflix

Headlines are devastated, reports suggest that ‘Blonde’ will brutally shatter Marilyn’s legend, and streaming service Netflix has been hit by a wave of indignation. This is nothing new in a society that seems to be going from zero to one hundred very quickly and is also happy to use growing discontent as a weapon. The media rubs in our faces supposed supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, and the words are harsh: “Female pain turns into fetish.” If anger isn’t enough, the 31-year-old has a better attitude: “Our society loves to fond the pain of women.” What Ratajkowski hides with interest is the fact that Marilyn Monroe did not lead a life without pain and the partially fictional novel raises this fact excessively to the center.

Epic lengths

But is the “blonde” the absolute disaster as implied by the media? The film begins with the childhood of Norma Jean Baker, who is Monroe’s real name. Her mother is a single mother and quickly goes crazy. They are graphic images, epic and never ending. The director puts the first unmistakable signs: a shocked girl! Fast forward several years: Norma’s name is now Marilyn, and she visits her mother, Gladys, in a mental institution. No trace of the father, in fact, he died before Norma was born. But there is one image, and the aspiring model-turned-actress is clinging to it like straw. It goes so far as to affectionately call her husbands “father”. This applies to former baseball star Joe Dimaggio as well as to writer Arthur Miller (“Death of a Salesman”). Neither relationship lasts, and the jealous athlete is said to have infected Marilyn, while the other succumbs to her infamous addiction to pills.

The real Marilyn Monroe poses for a photo shoot on Lexington Street in New York on the occasion of the shooting of her hit comedy movie

The real Marilyn Monroe poses for a photo shoot on Lexington Street in New York on the occasion of filming her hit comedy “The Seven Year Itch” by Billy Wilder.Photo: Keystone/AP Courtesy Running Press

Shock of the wielding sword

Andrew Dominik’s work oscillates between the aesthetics of Film Noir and Technicolor and also changes its format. That doesn’t make sense, even though Marilyn Monroe has already made some black and white films, including her classic “Some Like It Hot” by Billy Wilder. Long sequences are also annoying, for example when a mother wants to save her baby Norma from a wildfire and drives in the direction of flames all over the place. The shots stretch like chewing gum, as we know them from David Lynch (“Mulholland Drive”). The director, on the contrary, sometimes rides a mare, which leads to great leaps in the biography of a world star. For example, Miller’s reason for separation is hidden. The core of the message remains the same: Marilyn is being exploited, raped, humiliated and stamped as a sex symbol. She suffers, at least, a forced abortion, which is horribly extravagant, but nonetheless realistic enough and casts a shock in concrete.

The Beautiful and the Thinker: Even after the divorce, writer Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody) had nothing but good words for Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas).

The Beautiful and the Thinker: Even after the divorce, writer Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody) had nothing but good words for Marilyn Monroe (Ana de Armas).Photo: Keystone/AP/Netflix

Incompetent – uncommunicative

When Ana de Armas speaks, she breathes practically every word from her lips, as Marilyn has done in many of her comedies. In “Das verflixte 7. Jahr”, also written by Billy Wilder, she advertises “Edelweiss” toothpaste, in “Preferably blondes” she asks the captain with a red packet: “Does this ship go to Paris?” It’s hard to imagine Monroe continuing to breathe alone after the last flutter. She could be different in the movie, just think of the movie Misfits, which her writer and husband Arthur Miller wrote specifically for her. This is the most mature performance of this actress, who is likely to be diagnosed with ADHD today, precisely because these people are often very talented and charismatic. But “Blonde” sticks to the brittle, absent-minded blond narrative. Particularly disturbing is the appointment with President John F. Kennedy, who forces her to perform a blowjob as he punches an FBI agent on the phone and mysterious flying objects mysteriously thunder in an obelisk on TV in this hotel room.

From model to star: Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe.

From model to star: Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe.Photo: Keystone/AP/Netflix

Marilyn helps Ella

The story of a paid star who quickly becomes very famous and is absent from her father all his life, has touching and poignant moments, but it ignores the strong sides of a woman who has lost none of her charm 60 years after her death. There is the impartial Marilyn, who defended the black singer Ella Fitzgerald when they did not want to show her at a folk club. Monroe told the owner that he should hire Ella and she would have the front seat at the table every night.” Fitzgerald once said, “I owe a lot to Marilyn Monroe.” Her valiant performances before US forces in Korea in the mid-1950s, for which she boycotted Marilyn Monroe, were also hidden. Honey, or she was successful as a film producer (“The Prince and the Dancer”) and Sir Laurence Olivier, theatrical protagonist of the First Guard playing against the wall.The “tongue” implied in “The Blonde” also contrasts starkly with the “Happy Birthday” song Monroe sang to the president Kennedy with great confidence and in front of the cameras.

Short-lived happiness: Marilyn (Ana de Armas) with her husband Joe Dimaggio (Bobby Cannavale).

Short-lived happiness: Marilyn (Ana de Armas) with her husband Joe Dimaggio (Bobby Cannavale).Photo: Keystone/AP/Netflix

Sponsoring Troops in Korea Instead of a Honeymoon: The real Marilyn Monroe also charmed with her singing.

Sponsoring Troops in Korea Instead of a Honeymoon: The real Marilyn Monroe also charmed with her singing.Photo: Pixabay

Father Clark Gable

It can best be described as a dad complex that doesn’t show off the “blonde” of all things. Marilyn Monroe was attracted to her older co-star Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind) while filming Misfits in 1960. But the 59-year-old is said to have not given her an ancestor. Perhaps this was also due to Monroe’s annoying lack of commitment and addiction to pills, which pushed the film team to their limits. The estrangement from Arthur Miller and Clark Gable’s fatal heart attack after filming also affected the actress. But in the movie “Blonde”, the death of her ex-lover “Cass” ends. In the novel as in the movie, Monroe becomes a trio with Charles “Cass” Chaplin junior and Edward G. “Eddy” Robinson Junior, children of two Hollywood stars, by implication. In the end, it turns out that the letters she still receives from her missing father were written by Cass. Of course imagination can do that.

Spanish-Cuban actress Ana de Armas at the premiere of the movie

Spanish-Cuban actress Ana de Armas at the premiere of “Blond” during the 79th Venice International Film Festival in September 2022.Photo: Keystone, Ettore Ferrari

Outstanding Ana de Armas

The fact that the film adaptation of the novel “Blonde” turns out to be something of an event is due to the deceptively true recreation of the film’s individual scenes and the outstanding performance of Ana de Armas in the role of a dazzling international star. There are shots where her resemblance to Marilyn is so striking that one inevitably thinks of deepfakes. The 34-year-old Cuban-Spanish actress is close to the age at which the real Monroe died of a sleeping pill overdose in 1962 at the age of 36. But you can easily believe it’s little Norma Jane, the girl who is working her way up to becoming the goddess of the silver screen. De Armas vacillates confidently between a child in need of protection and a radiant patch who loses himself in a sea of ​​disappointments at the bitter end. Some wished that Ana de Armas’ talent could have been harnessed in a multifaceted autobiography of Monroe that would be much closer to this favorite blonde, who was neither dumb nor shy.

Film and book Peter Hint

“Blonde” by Andrew Dominic

Based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates

Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale

Streaming service: Netflix


Silver Marilyn: Marilyn Monroe and the camera

Photographs from 1945 to 1962

Schirmer/Moselle, 248 pages; ISBN 978-3-8296-0952-4

When 19-year-old Norma Jane Baker started a humble career as a model in 1945, one of show business’s most passionate love stories began: Marilyn Monroe’s affair with the camera. In an intoxicating 17-year-old, Marilyn has risen from supermodel and star to megastar. The volume, first published in 1989, reflects this evolution in 152 deceptive images by great photographers such as Richard Avedon, Philip Halsman, Cecil Beaton or Bert Stern and all photographers. Marilyn (1926 to 1962) also had her say in the legendary interview with writer George Belmont in 1960. Although her story dates back more than half a century, Marilyn’s shimmering beauty and exceptional looks are more remarkable than ever.

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