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  • Ken Silvers

Blonde


The late Marilyn Monroe has been the subject of countless films and television shows, and there is a new film to add to the vast collection: "Blonde". The film is based on the 2000 novel of the same name, and is a fictionalized take on the career of the world's most famous blonde. As I watched the film, I realized some aspects certainly happened in Monroe's life, and others I'm sure are speculation.One of the interesting aspects of the film is the fact there are segments in black and white and others in color, only adding to the mystique of the late actress. The film introduces us to Monroe as a child, known then as Norma Jeane Mortenson, and we see her life with her mentally unstable mother Gladys (Julianne Nicholson). Gladys is at times kind to Norma, and at other times is very harsh and abusive of her daughter. One night when a fire breaks out in the Hollywood Hills, Gladys has a complete breakdown after she realizes Norma's father wants nothing to do with her. During her breakdown Gladys tried to drown Norma in the bathtub, but the child escapes to a neighbours house where a couple who know Norma take her in until they realize Gladys has been admitted to a mental hospital and they can no longer care for the child. In a heartbreaking moment, the couple take Norma to an orphanage, which breaks her heart as she knows she isn't an orphan. The film then moves from the 1930's to the 1940's and reveals Norman Jeane (Ana de Armas) has become a pin-up girl with the stage name Marilyn Monroe. After a horrible incident with a film studio president, she auditions for a role in the film "Don't Bother to Knock", and even though her audition goes horribly wrong, she impresses the casting director enough to be cast in the film. As her acting career continues to rise, she meets Charles "Cass" Chaplin, Jr. (Xavier Samuel) and Edward G. "Eddy" Robinson, Jr. (Evan Williams), the sons of two famous actors, and the trio develop an "interesting" relationship. Meanwhile, Monroe is cast in the movie "Niagara", which proves to be her breakout role. Once the role makes her a true film star, she is warned to stay away from Cass and Eddy, as her relationship with the duo could harm her budding career. As the film moves on, Monroe is cast in other famous films, including "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", and "The Seven Year Itch". Some of her other films, including "Bus Stop", are never mentioned. The story also covers Monroe's various failed pregnancies, marriages to baseball star Joe Dimaggio (Bobby Cannavale) and playwright Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody), and infamous relationships with the Kennedy brothers, which is presented from and center in the film. By 1962, Marilyn has sadly become dependent on drugs and alcohol, and the dependency will eventually lead to her death, conspiracies aside. As she continues to spiral downward, one can't help but feel sorry for Monroe as she never was able to find lasting love and struggled to find respect in Hollywood as anything but a blonde "bombshell". Of course we know Monroe's life ended tragically, but the world was forever left with her splending work and amazing onscreen chemistry, of which Norma could always turn on as MM. At times the film moves a bit slow, and has a long running time of 2 hours and 46 minutes, but is worth every moment due to the amazing performance of Ana de Armas. Armas is so in tune to Marilyn it's earth shattering, and I feel we will see her name announced come Oscar time. The film is rated NC-17, which I find a bit shocking considering most of the scenes which might be labeled controversial, have been seen in most R rated films. The film is directed by Andrew Dominik ("Killing Them Softly") and he is able to pull off a fresh take on Monroe despite all the other efforts to hit the screen. The supporting actors are all wonderful, with the aforementioned Brody extremely effective as Miller. The cinematography in the film is beautiful, and Armas looks radiant. After viewing the film, I wish Monroe had been able to find lasting love and had been better treated by Hollywood, which may have resulted in a longer life. "Blonde" is a great watch for fans of Monroe and cinema history. Now playing on Netflix. (Rated NC-17)

4/5
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