Blonde (2022), Dir. Andrew Dominik, Netflix, 4**** Reviewed by Dana Archer

Starring – Ana De Armas, Xavier Samuel, Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody

Rating 4****

Directed by Andrew Dominik starring Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe and based on the based on the biographical fiction novel by Joyce Caroll Oates. This immense film demonstrates the harrowing life of Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe. Opening in 1933 under the supervision of her abusive mother, Norma Jean is shown a photo of her Father – a Hollywood actor – her mother blames her birth for his leaving. As the film progresses, we see how Norma Jean develops an alter ego in Marilyn Monroe – she is misused and manipulated by powerful men as she begins to rise to stardom. While staggering in length, I felt this film accurately and emotionally captivates Monroe, Ana De Armas gives a stellar performance with it sometimes being difficult to differentiate her from Monroe. This is a challenging watch however with director Dominik using cinematography to manipulate the audiences’ vision- while some of the shots are unnecessary (such as the repeated image of Monroe’s iconic skirt scene) – some of the sequences are quite powerful and poignant. The film tackles several themes such as sexual assault, drug use and misogyny – Marilyn’s story is tragic and very much a product of Hollywood at the time. Throughout the film we are walked through Monroe’s short life from tragedy to tragedy. While I fear the length of this film may put some viewers off, I encourage you to take the time as this is a fascinating exploration of Monroe’s life. I hope there is an Oscar Nomination for Armas this year as the raw emotional visibility that she embodies in this role is exquisite- she becomes Marilyn in this masterclass of acting.

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