The movie “Blonde” directed by Andrew Dominik was released on Netflix on Wednesday, Sept. 28 after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 8.
The movie is based on the biographical fiction novel that goes by the same title written by Joyce Carol Oates. This novel is a fictionalized portrayal of Norma Jeane Baker’s, also known as Marilyn Monroe’s, upbringings, journey to becoming a celebrity, the relationships she had and trauma she suffered through to get there.
Despite the 14-minute-long standing ovation it received at the Venice Film Festival, the film has been getting backlash from critics and viewers because of the fictional depiction and sexualization of Monroe’s life.
“It is not a biopic, not in a familiar sense. It is not a chronological, nor an attempt at a complete account. Most crucially, it’s not factual,” according to Jocelyn Noveck in the Associated Press.
The film received a 42% Tomatometer score—the percentage of positive reviews from professional critics—and a 32% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the critics’ consensus on the film is that “Ana de Armas’s luminous performance makes it difficult to look away, but ‘Blonde’ can be hard to watch as it teeters between commenting on exploitation and contributing to it,” while the general audience says, “It doesn’t matter how well-acted or creatively filmed it is, watching ‘Blonde’ is a really unpleasant experience.”
Similar to the mention of exploitation, sophomore and Film Club president Lauren Kehrle said, “While this may be considered on a case-to-case basis, I would generally argue that making movies such as ‘Blonde’ is an act of exploitation and casts a shadow over all that is admirable about celebrities, like Marilyn Monroe.”
“In its resolute focus on just one aspect of what being Marilyn Monroe must have been like, the movie simply caricatures her once again,” said Robert Levin, top critic from Rotten Tomatoes and Assistant Managing Editor for Newsday.
Mike Ward, another top critic from Rotten Tomatoes and editor and publisher of Should I See It, called it “yet one more example of a man taking a voice away from a woman and not caring enough to consider any of the consequences.”
In addition to the critic reviews, viewers of the film also had opinions regarding the movie and its controversy.
“The movie oversexualized Marilyn Monroe’s life based on simply fictional accounts from an already controversial book that was proven to be fictional,” said junior media student Angelise Roy, who has watched the movie and kept up with reactions and responses of the film on social media. “It doesn’t let Marilyn Monroe rest, and it takes advantage of her in death as Hollywood did to her in life.”
Despite the controversy and backlash surrounding the film, some critics and viewers were able to recognize the acting and performance of Ana de Armas and the visual intentions and production techniques executed by the director and were able to give reviews—both good and bad—from a general movie perspective as well.
“What ‘Blonde’ IS is ambitious. Far-reaching, at times perhaps too far,” according to Noveck. “And frequently gorgeous, especially in expertly rendered scenes of old-fashioned Hollywood glitz, mainly in black-and-white—the
endless flashbulbs popping (and sounding like gunshots) on the red carpet, the fans ogling, their faces sometimes distorted by lust.”
John Anderson, an author for the Wall Street Journal and another top critic from Rotten Tomatoes, said, “Andrew Dominik’s pseudo-biography is one long slog into sadness and more-than-predictable tragedy, despite a touching portrayal by Ana de Armas and the deliberately artful and often startling filmmaking of Mr. Dominik.”
Photo: Isabella Fabbo