‘Blonde’ overview: Ana de Armas stars as Marilyn Monroe in a pretentious, overlong, NC-17 Netflix film

Adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ novel concerning the Hollywood icon by writer-director Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”), the film works from the premise that not solely did the frozen-in-time star endure due to the boys round her, but in addition the society (that’s, us) that leered at her even within the pre-Internet age. It’s not a recent take or a improper one, however the tone is so self-conscious and surreal as to blunt these insights.

Blurring truth and fiction, “Blonde” begins with the very younger Norma Jeane and her relationship with the mentally disturbed mom (Julianne Nicholson) who was pressured to provide her up, returning repeatedly to the concept that the she by no means stopped pining for the daddy she did not know, whereas searching for to exchange him with the well-known males who wooed, wedded and exploited her.

Norma Jeane is ultimately reworked into Marilyn Monroe, however even then she persistently speaks of her star persona within the third individual, as if the picture stands aside and totally separate from the human being behind it.

The irony is that as a lot because the New Zealand-born director labors to humanize Marilyn — after quite a few films based mostly on her life, together with a number of for tv — this model fares greatest in depicting the acquainted picture by means of replicating scenes from her movies. De Armas and the staggering hair/make-up/costume work current these moments so uncannily (sometimes blended with footage of Monroe’s co-stars) that it’s a must to blink to ensure it isn’t the true factor.

Beyond that, the movie gruelingly drags on by means of sad interludes of the actress getting used and abused, oscillating between shade and black-and-white imagery in a means that feels arbitrary. Dominik additionally distastefully offers with Monroe’s misplaced pregnancies by peeking on the fetus inside her, which turns into symbolic of simply how overdone a lot of the film is.

Those excesses cannot completely eclipse the fearless and weak nature of de Armas’ portrayal, and she or he’s in all probability proper in contending that the NC-17 ranking (a steerage suggesting solely adults be admitted to theaters) is undeserved, given equally edgy fare that hasn’t acquired it. Then once more, the label appears on surer footing considering the movie’s general grimness than its sexuality.

Several supporting roles are additionally spectacular, with Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody as Monroe’s husbands Joe DiMaggio (once more proven grimacing by means of “The Seven Year Itch” shoot) and playwright Arthur Miller, respectively.

Still, “Blonde” is nearly wholly de Armas’ present, and to the extent it is price sitting by means of in any respect give her each ounce of credit score. When she tells DiMaggio, “I’ve been completely happy all my life” in Monroe’s honeyed voice, the lie is as unconvincing as it’s heartbreaking.

Netflix is offering the film the now-customary transient theatrical run after making its debut on the Venice Film Festival, however houses are certainly the place it is most apt to be watched, particularly given its 2 hour, 46 minute operating time.

In a non-public setting, viewers will have the ability to take all of the breaks they should climate the expertise, however they will not have the ability to escape the movie’s relentlessly lurid, in-your-face method. Indeed, when you get previous admiring de Armas’ immersion into the function, that is the one itch that “Blonde” appears to know how one can scratch.

“Blonde” premieres September 16 in choose US theaters and September 28 on Netflix. It’s rated NC-17.

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