“I didn’t understand why that happened. I can tell you a number of shows or movies that are way more explicit with a lot more sexual content than Blonde. But to tell this story it is important to show all these moments in Marilyn’s life that made her end up the way that she did. It needed to be explained. Everyone [in the cast] knew we had to go to uncomfortable places. I wasn’t the only one.”
I watched the 2001 TV movie of "Blonde" last year. I thought it was okay. But you could see the limitations of it being made for TV. And it's not an accurate portrayal of her life. I liked "The secret life of Marilyn Monroe" miniseries from a few years ago.
The book is a glorified fan fiction account of her life... I'm hoping no one is expecting an accurate and truthful biopic from it. Won't be the first time they've done it and probably won't be the last time.
I watched it earlier and I'll say it's probably not a movie for everybody.
One of the first reason is, like forca84 said above, that it is a fiction on her life, not an accurate depiction. I know the "outlines" of her life but I haven't read the book on which the movie is based (Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates) nor any biographies about her. So, while I can't comment on how factually correct some of the things depicted were, I can say that not all parts or ideas were used evenly.
For example, excluding the secret services agents interactions with Marilyn, there is only one short scene with JFK while there is some time used to depict the relationship she may have had (from what I read that relation could very well be fiction) with both Charlie Chaplin Jr. and Edward G Robinson Jr. simultaneously.
The second reason would be the narration style. Not only is the story telling episodic (still in chronological order though) but the goal of everything put in every scene is also different that what is often seen, especially on that scale. Whereas most movie want to show and tell you "look at ..." first with a bit of "feel that..." here and there, Blonde is about "feel that" first and foremost. From the lighting, camera work, sound and acting it's all about making you feel as vulnerable or at times disoriented just like Marilyn was. That's why as the story goes through the years and her life unravels, for a lack of a better word, you go from a structured order in which things happens to blackouts in the scenes, more blurriness and sound to make you feel dizzy or disoriented and events become "flashes". In short, the movie tries to make you experience what she went through (from a fictional perspective, keep that in mind) rather than just show you.
Don't get me wrong, it doesn't feel experimental or along the line of what 2001: A space odyssey or A clockwork orange could feel like and it works but it's not your typical narration approach.
The third reason this movie isn't for everybody is the runtime. Excluding the duration of the opening and ending credits, the story itself is 2 hours 38-39 minutes long. Considering that towards the end, you get a more and more "disjointed" story telling, you can definitely feel the long runtime.
Still, the movie has some pretty interesting things and I'm seriously not talking about Ana de Armas' breasts, though I will come back to that later.
Visually, the scenes look amazing both in black and white as well as in color. I honestly don't know if they did it the old way or they simply found a way to do it with computers but the colored scenes have that grain and the same color palette of the movies from the years portrayed. While I don't know the proper terms to name the different types of transitions used, they are also really smooth and look really good. They also took the time to incorporate scenes that recreate some of the pictures of Marilyn, whether it is at home, with her husband or friends or at work and they really were able to capture that haunting feeling you had looking at some of her pictures or some clips of her.
In a similar line, to really sell the idea that de Armas is Monroe, every excerpts from her movies that is shown is actually a recreation of the original scenes. So from the singing while surrounded by gentlemen in Gentlemen prefer blondes to some scenes from Some like it hot, everything has been re-enacted with actors that look the same as the original actors on top of the setup, costumes and everything. It's not digitally replacing the real Monroe with de Armas and using that combination, everything has been redone and it looks great.
The acting is pretty solid by everyone and de Armas is even great but uneven at times. For some scenes, she gets really close to the way Marilyn spoke, moved and "behaved" so you buy into the portrayal but at times she's just off enough, never to the point of being bad, so you get the feeling it's de Armas with a blonde dye job.
Yet, despite some very positive things, there are still some questionable ones.
One that sticks to mind is the choice for the person
who is narrating Marilyn's father, while she reads his letters
. While you can hear the "languishing" tone of his voice, which properly reflects the feelings described, that guy sounds like he's in his early to mid-20's. So it feels like a guy missing his girlfriend rather
. While not major, it still feels off every time you hear it.
Now, the subject of Ana de Armas' boobies. While she is good looking and I got nothing against nudity or sex scenes, it's the amount that is baffling. I remember it's based on a work of fiction and the movie tried to portray the fact that Monroe was used and abused by some of the people around her but from what I understand, Marilyn wasn't Emmanuelle (that movie with Sylvia Kristel)! Was she vulnerable? Yes. DId she tried to find herself and find some peace in her life also? Yes, but there were more than that in her interactions with the world than that and showing her boobies and having sex.
In a way, despite all the efforts made to recreate the look and environment, the movie felt a bit superficial and not so accurate (while keeping in mind it was based on a fictional book based on her life) especially since it didn't gave much details about some relationships or people she met and had an impact on her life.