Marilyn Monroe has been exploited time and time again, both when she was alive and after her passing. Disrespect from those who continue to benefit from her image has been a focus of public attention for many years, but seems to have exploded once again this year—Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala gaffe hasn’t helped there.
Blonde is based on a fictional novel of the same name, and explores a fictionalised imagining of Monroe’s personal life. It follows her rise, from a difficult childhood to her eventual overdose, and depicts deeply traumatising and disturbing moments (which has earned the film an NC-17 rating). To put it gently, it’s not a pleasant watch. To put it less gently, it’s disastrous.
The film is completely lacking in any self-awareness. Upon watching, there’s the hope that it’s going to deconstruct… surely all of these tightening, claustrophobic, sexualising shots will fall away to some meaningful conclusion? It disappoints in that regard, and almost every other. Ana de Armas does her best with what she is given (and looks exactly like Monroe), but ultimately, it’s a slow, brutal, exploitative film, with not much opportunity of saving. The most enduring legacy of Monroe’s, it appears, will be the refusal to acknowledge her humanity.
An accidental horror film that captures everything wrong with how we imagine Marilyn Monroe.