Celebrity feels empty in Netflix’s Marilyn Monroe biopic ‘Blonde’ – Detroit Metro Times | Ad On Picture

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Netflix

Ana de Armas plays Marilyn Monroe Blond.

Absolutely unique and happy to indulge in is Andrew Dominik’s new work Blond, adapted for Netflix from the 2000 novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, treats the life, spirit and personality of Marilyn Monroe as something to be thoroughly puzzled over, as a monument meant to swing beyond itself . With his portrayal that relies on the notion of performing as an ego-disturbing, dissociative act, and with Ana de Armas’ performance that makes the façade of fame (and contentment) look horribly thin, Blond becomes a long parade of mostly humiliation inflicted by cruel and absent partners, patriarchs, and perhaps something in the woman born Norma Jeane Mortenson herself.

While its overly scattered emotional highs and luminous, constantly experimental photography give it commendable qualities, the film remains deeply off-balance in a way that might be deemed appropriate, yet still feels psychologically flimsy, suggesting that something the emotional didn’t make jump from page to screen (or footage to Final Cut). Unfortunately, Dominik or his supervisors don’t manage to feel this in his editing, condemning the film to a loop of repeating scenes that end up endorsing each other through their shared resemblance and weakening the film in the end.

Though the film has plenty of competition (a score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, dazzling photography by Chayse Irvin), Ana de Armas’ leading role inevitably takes center stage. Playing off the screenplay’s posited dual identity premise, which suggests “Marilyn” as the sort of strong, compelling fiction and Norma Jean as an often repressed, wounded creature who makes constant sacrifices to fuel the screen to which they are both bound , Blond Introduces Marilyn as a starlet and then a star who is desperate to please but is tormented by the effort. De Armas slips into the role energetically and brings this accompanying pain to the fore; Dominik gives us only flickering glimpses of her acting roles (and often only through distant long shots of drooling moviegoers watching us). In these rare glimpses that see what Marilyn can do on screen (that is, in movies — in the world of film), we’re invited less to emotionally participate moment-to-moment in what she’s doing than about it thinking about the context that surrounds the making and release of each film.

The circumstances of Mortenson’s life remain remarkably bleak, Dominik recounts. From a sheltered upbringing (until she’s scared away by her mentally ill and spiraling single mother, to casting sessions where producers demand grotesque concessions for roles), the materials from Mortenson’s life seem to taint what we see in her performances see. But for the most part they seem to be hidden beneath a fragile but brief glimpse of glamor; For us as viewers, the antics that attract the attention of the public, with which she is accustomed to occupy herself, usually stand alongside her life with a kind of residual ironic dissonance. Echoing alternately Naomi Watts in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (but with less vigor in her happy moments) and Laura Dern from his domestic empire (at its most lost points) de Armas settles for something that is not entirely new – it is just slightly different in tone. In moments of joy, de Armas’ Norma appears hoarse and distraught, as if gasping for air after missing time underwater with no real connection. Holding onto a stubborn streak of hope, the mystery that drives her character is less what worries Marilyn/Norma than what keeps her going – dying at just 36 seems almost a miracle, if you can see that she left not much earlier.

The film’s photography flatters all of this while doing so much more, merging the film with de Armas’ performance with a wide range of visual motifs. New aspect ratios and filters flicker through the picture, with most frames being absolute paragons of care and sophistication. Irvin shoots most of the scenes with a shallow focus lens, forcing the actors into an almost flattened space of confinement if they want to stay in focus throughout a scene. Often a part of it (a foot on a stool, a gesturing hand on a back wall) hangs too far or too close to the lens and just starts to blur and blur. The suggestion here is twofold: first, that the presentation of the characters, even for us on screen, necessarily flattens both for us and for film audiences of films within the film, and second, that the nature of this compression is both delicate and distorting, and changes those who experience it on either side of the projected frame. Besides Blond employs some sort of signature filter, silvery-blue with shimmers of peachy or pink; what was done is technically a mystery to me, but it is used here to create images that prove breathtaking in their complexity and sophistication.

A teenage love affair forms the film’s visual and emotional climax, a ménage à trois and the excursions that accompany it give Norma rare moments to bask in something that feels emotionally direct: for the first time since childhood, her guard lapses. Dominik and his team treat a rumored dalliance in the star’s life as believable, managing to capture both the richly felt resonance and fleeting superficiality of a well-timed affair. Irvin edits together scenes at dinners of ecstatic sexual contortions, pulling out all the stops to bring out the best in each actor’s characters, abstracting them into prismatic imagery with a deft aura of creativity in a way that feels both embracing and exciting. It’s scenes and moments like these – the flights, reverie and independent images of the film – that make the difference Blond a film worth seeing. Dominik can transcend this in ways he can’t or won’t manage with psychology, and seems best to deal with the fragility – however disconcertingly gendered that notion – of Marilyn/Norma’s flickering, often swaying image. Consistently (and perhaps to his credit) he seems to believe in “the picture” more than “the real”.

Were Dominik free to do just that, to cycle through abstract meditations on a tumultuous public-private life and focus on differently charged surfaces, Blond would likely increase. But over its lifetime, BlondThe script and structure of the film often seem secondary when considering the vividness of its imagery and performance. With bleakly necessary cameos (JFK) and scenes (the story behind the famous rock shot) showing and dragging the film down, no amount of editorial and visual tinkering can exactly liberate it Blond of the commitments and simple logic of Netflix’s expectations of a biopic production like this. But for those willing to wait, here’s a good piece – and it ends up looking better than most to put it alongside.

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