BwaveAndrew Dominik’s new Netflix movie adds so much nuance to the idea of Marilyn Monroe that it can be inferred from a gynecological exam. The bombshell movie star has long been a tragic figure, set in Hollywood studios as a woman who was abused by her husband, Joe DiMaggio, and her sick mother as a child. Adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ fictional novel from 2000, director Dominik’s nightmarish film instead of challenging the traditional narrative takes it to an even darker and more invasive place. He says if you want to understand Marilyn Monroe, you have to get inside her womb first.
This gruesome drama takes us several times into the previously unexplored depths of Marilyn Monroe’s vagina during its staggering 2 hours-45 minutes of runtime. I won’t “break” it all, but in the first hour of the movie, we watch Ana de Armas play Monroe, played with annoying fragility, excitedly clutching her belly as the camera cuts through her glowing womb – complete with a ghostly backlit fetus. A few scenes later, we follow Marilyn to the operating table where the doctors perform an abortion against her will. “Please, won’t you listen? I’ve changed my mind,” her doctor pleads as she inserts my speculum—a procedure that is horribly portrayed from the point of view of Marilyn’s own cervix.
Feeling that it is a derivative of the famous Rita Hayworth line about her most iconic and appealing movie role, Dominik insists on the animation principle of her film: “Boys, sleep with Gilda and wake up with me.” Inside BlondeThe minions and big wigs hoping to get their share of the Hollywood starlet instead find a more reserved, desperate woman named Norma Jeane who looks the same as Marilyn Monroe. This may be interesting as a passing observation, but the movie makes this point over and over again. “She’s pretty, but not me,” says Norma Jeane, looking at her stunning photo in a magazine. “F*** Marilyn,” Norma Jeane then yells into the phone. “She is not here.”
If what Dominik means is that Marilyn is an invention—“baby’s first toy,” one of her lovers cryptically puts it—then perhaps these unbearable body horror scenes are the director’s sadistic way of reminding us that there is more to her than just a two-dimensional projection of her. If you expose Marilyn Monroe to the pressure of an unwanted abortion, won’t she scream in wordless agony? And if Norma Jeane becomes pregnant again years later, isn’t her unborn fetus gaining the ability to speak human?
I promise you, you read it right. In one of the film’s most disturbing bodily sequences, Marilyn’s startlingly talkative fetus – who somehow also learns about the previous abortion – begs her host to let this pregnancy continue. Not just “alive” Blondehas the will. Marilyn can hear. He answers loudly as if they are speaking. I had to watch this scene a few times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but no – it’s right in the middle of it. Blondethere is an imbalance Look Who’s Talking pre-qualified.
These scenes of a woman who regrets having an abortion for years are very controversial. As a storytelling mode, they totally alienate it. Marilyn Monroe never looks less real more for me than when she happily dialogues with the unborn child in her marvelously bright womb. Should I believe that all movie stars are lit from within?
Marilyn also doesn’t feel more like a Hollywood toy than when Dominik inflicts gory sexual and medical violence on her, literally dissects her, and barbarically portrays what it’s like to be one of the 20th century’s most famous women. Blonde not a movie about The exploitation of Marilyn Monroe, but a new low watermark in Hollywood’s treatment of her – a sex object reduced to a sex organ.