blonde 2.jpg

Blonde: A Starlet’s Journey Till her End

Though the movie received a 14-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, Blonde is a sentimental saga that portrays Marilyn Monroe as a victim of lascivious males. However, the brilliant acting by Ana De Armas makes the film stand out.  

Ana De Armas starrer Blonde is a topic of debate among critics. Though the movie received a 14-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival it raises certain questions. Blonde tells an extremely fictionalized story of Marilyn Monroe’s life, right from her traumatic childhood to her overdose of drugs in her thirties. The movie is ostensibly based on the novel by James Carol Oates. However, it appears that the writing of the script is inspired more from her life sketched by media than the actual contents of the book. Andrew Dominik, the Blonde screenwriter and director, doesn’t appear to have read the passage regarding Monroe. The dazzling, troubled product of his Norma Jeane-Marilyn Monroe, is nothing more than a ‘victim’ who is abused repeatedly by people who profess to love her. Things get worse as the years go by and as her fame (or infamy) becomes her own bitter enemy. This Marilyn Monroe version is nothing but a toy in the hands of lascivious males and the butt of sneering jokes from her own sex but seems to be too weak and too timid to take up cudgels against her exploitation. Strangely enough, unlike the real-life Marilyn, this Marilyn has no female pals. She wanders and stumbles through a life that never seems like her own.

The movie begins with a flashback; we get to know Marilyn when she was Norma Jeane staying with her single mother (with mental health complications). The era is 1933 and the place is Los Angeles. Her mother tries to drown her in the bath when Norma Jeane raises questions about her father’s identity. Her anguish and pain are projected very realistically by Ana De Armas, so much so that even the most heard-hearted reader feels a desire to reach out to the screen and save Marilyn from the horrors she faces and also save her from the harmful choices she is about to make. Next, we see Marilyn as a pin up girl, rapidly on her way to super stardom in Hollywood. In 1950’s she is surrounded by innumerable men who control her and wield their power over her mercilessly. This is the point where things turn from bad to worse. We are told how she is violently and sexually assaulted by the president of the film industry. There are allusions to the fact that she has also been violated by J F Kennedy.

The movie continues to paint a morbid and pain-riddled image of Marilyn having multiple relations with men and her desperation to win her Father’s approval, someone whom she hasn’t even met. She calls her husbands ‘Daddy’, both Arthur Miller (played by Adrian Brody) and Joe DiMaggio (played by Bobby Cannavale). She is ready to admit to mistakes, even though she is not at fault. We are shown how unhappy she is and how she finds herself slap-bang in the middle of physical relations, but facts like her acting talent and her own production housework, her role as a civil rights activist are completely ignored. The script holds her accountable for everything. She should have been better prepared for the googly life had thrown at her. She should have understood people better! One peculiar scene includes a pregnant Marilyn with Arthur Miller, now seemingly happy, talking to her fetus, and the fetus talks back to her, blaming her for her previous abortion. One can see that she readily accepts the blame. One feels sorry for her every time. Another peculiar scene includes a standing ovation post a movie premiere; Marilyn dwells on why she a successful movie career over being a mother. This feeds right into the anti- abortion propaganda.

This movie is far from being a biopic. To be brutally honest, it is a long-drawn out sentimental saga which highlights real and not-so-real tragedies and traumas of Monroe’s life. After a while this lack authenticity and overdone sentiment begins to grate on the readers nerves. After a while, I wanted her misery and also the movie to end. But then my attention was attracted by the cinematography, edits and match cuts highlighted and I was impressed! However, Ana as Monroe, makes sure that the viewer is strongly impacted. She makes Norma Jeane seem like the most stunning lady you have ever seen as well as the most tormented person you have ever met. She woos men for jewels in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and lets her skirt fly in The Seven Year Itch, and she is essentially the same Marilyn Monroe in both films. The sequences in which she sobs uncontrollably during film auditions and sobs like a baby on her mother’s lap would undoubtedly be on the Oscars’ sizzle reel for Best Actress award. I would rate the film as a 7 out of 10, based only on Ana De Armas’s spectacular performance.

Rmandep.JPG

Dr. Ramandeep Mahal is currently working as an Assistant Professor of English at Guru Nanak Khalsa College Yamunanagar. She received her Doctorate degree from Maharishi Markandeshwar Mullana Ambala in 2018. Her research interests include Anglo-American Literature, Indian Writing in English, African Literature. She is the author of more than twenty research papers.