BplankAndrew Dominic’s new Netflix movie adds as much nuance to the idea of Marilyn Monroe as it can be gleaned from a gynecological examination. The blockbuster star has long been established as a tragic figure, a woman who was abused by Hollywood studios, her husband, Joe Dimaggio, and her ailing mother as a child. Rather than challenging the traditional narrative, director Dominic’s nightmarish film, adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 fantasy novel, takes it to a darker and more penetrating setting. If you want to understand Marilyn Monroe, he suggests that you first enter her womb.
This grim drama takes us into the previously unexplored depths of Marilyn Monroe’s vagina multiple times over an astonishing runtime of 2 hours 45 minutes. I won’t “spoil” them all, but in the film’s first hour, we watch Monroe, played by painfully weak Ana de Armas, clutching her stomach passionately as the camera cuts into her glowing womb—complete with a spectral backlit fetus. A few scenes later, we follow Marilyn to the operating table, as doctors perform an abortion that she hasn’t approved. “Please, won’t you listen? I’ve changed my mind,” she pleads, as her doctor inserts the speculum—a procedure horribly filmed face-to-face, from the viewpoint of Marilyn’s cervix.
Dominic insists on the principle of animation in his film, which in itself feels derived from Rita Hayworth’s famous line about her most famous and seductive film role: “Men go to bed with Gilda and wake up with me.” in Blondesycophants and celebs hoping for a piece of the Hollywood starlet, instead, look for a more shy and desperate woman named Norma Jeane, who just so happens to look identical to Marilyn Monroe. This might be interesting as a passing note, but the movie makes this point over and over again. “She’s beautiful, but it’s not me,” says Norma Jean, looking at a charming photo of her in a magazine. “F*** Marilyn,” Norma Jean later yelled into the phone. “she is not here.”
If Dominic’s view is that Marilyn is an invention—”baby’s first toy,” as one fan vaguely notes—then perhaps these scenes of agonizing body horror are the director’s sadistic way of reminding us that she’s more than just a two-dimensional projection. If Marilyn Monroe subjected her to an unwanted abortion, wouldn’t she scream in silent agony? And if Norma Jean gets pregnant again years later, won’t her unborn fetus acquire the ability to human speech?
I promise you, you read that correctly. In one of the film’s most disturbing physical scenes, Marilyn’s surprisingly talkative fetus – who somehow also has knowledge of her previous miscarriage – pleads with his host to allow this pregnancy to proceed. It’s not just “alive” in the eyes BlondeShe has a will. Marilyn can hear it. She responds out loud as if they are in a conversation. I had to watch this scene a few times to make sure I wasn’t delirious, but no – in the middle of it Blondethere are distorted look who’s Talking prefix.
Politically speaking, these scenes of a woman burdened with years of regretting an abortion are highly controversial. As a way to tell stories, they are quite averse. Marilyn Monroe never looks any less truly More to me than when she was cheerfully talking to the unborn child in her fantastically radiant womb. Do I think all movie stars are lit from within?
Marilyn has never felt more like a Hollywood game than when Dominic subjected her to sexual and medical violence, literally interrogated, and brutally portrayed what she feels like as one of the most famous women of the 20th century from the inside out. Blonde not a movie Around Exploiting Marilyn Monroe, but a new watermark low in Hollywood’s treatment of her – a sexual being turned into a sexual organ.
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