Marilyn Monroe Netflix biopic comes out to huge backlash and negative reviews: ‘Pain and anguish’

Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. (Netflix)

Netflix has released its new Marilyn Monroe biopic, Blonde, starring Ana De Armas – and many of the reviews have not been kind.

The movie, directed by Andrew Dominik and based on the book of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, paints a harsh and traumatic picture of the Hollywood star’s life. 

The film contains several deeply disturbing scenes portraying rape, abuse and miscarriage, some of which is based in truth but much of which is entirely fictionalised. The film ends with Monroe’s suicide at the age of 36.

Critics and viewers have slammed the film for such a ruthless and depressing portrayal of Monroe’s life, full of invented trauma, rather than celebrating her legacy. 

 

“Mostly, what’s missing is any sense of what made Monroe more than just another beautiful woman in Hollywood: her genius,” the New York Times wrote in its review.

“Watching Blonde, I wondered if Dominik had ever actually watched a Marilyn Monroe film, had seen the transcendent talent, the brilliant comic timing, the phrasing, gestures and grace?”

Variety echoed the same sentiments, adding: “Of course Marilyn Monroe was treated harshly by Hollywood, the public and the world. 

“But in focusing exclusively on the most miserable aspects of her life, Dominik is doing the same thing he’s supposedly criticizing. Monroe was a victim, but she was also so much more.”
A review by Digital Spy said the film, which is almost three hours long, is almost exclusively dedicated to “subjecting Marilyn to an endurance test of abuses” including being raped twice, blackmail, and two forced abortions.

As one TikTok user pointed out, a recent interview with Dominik about Blonde sheds light on the concerning angle he was approaching the film.

I think Marilyn was a guy’s girl. I don’t think she was a woman who had a lot of female friends,” Dominik told BFI – despite lots of evidence to the contrary.

He was also asked why the film doesn’t include the inspirational moments such as when she made her own production company or fought against segregation.

Dominik responded: “That stuff is not really what the film is about. It’s about a person who is going to be killing themself. So it’s trying to examine the reasons why they did that. It’s not looking at her lasting legacy.”

“She wrested control away from the men at the studio, because, you know, women are just as powerful as men. But that’s really looking at it through a lens that’s not so interesting to me.”

‘Disrespectful, distasteful, fabricated’

But many viewers of the show were not especially thrilled about the lens through which Monroe is portrayed.

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Blonde is almost three hours of trauma sadistic voyeurism and porn. It defiles Marilyn Monroe’s memory and it’s a baseless character assassination. I have never seen such a bad movie with such a disgusting intention from the makers,” one person tweeted. 

While another wrote: “Blonde has to be one of the most disrespectful, distasteful, fabricated biopics I’ve ever seen.

“Marilyn was not weak she stood up for Civil rights , women’s rights to equal pay , she never wanted to be treated as a joke or sex object… they did all of the above.”

Some remembered Monroe’s final interview where she asked “please don’t make me look like a joke”, and others wondered when the industry would finally tell “her real story”.

Many, however, believe the one saving grace of the film is Ana De Armas in the lead role.

Insider’s review stated: “She completely transforms into Monroe, not just in her looks and mannerisms, but also in her voice. 

“Though that has been a point of contention since the movie’s trailer came out, I was completely transfixed on every word she delivered.

“She is guaranteed an Oscar nomination for her work. It’s just a shame most of her performance is filled with pain and anguish.”

‘A deeply flawed gem’

Some viewers agreed with the assessment, saying: “Ana de Armas delivered THE best performance in a film I will never watch again. 

“Just like Marilyn, she has screen presence that can’t be learned and can’t be taught. A true tour de force turn in a deeply flawed film.”

While another said: “Ana de Armas gives a chilling performance. But when it comes to the script, the director tried to tell the story of an exploited movie star using – ironically – exploitation instead of compassion.”

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