Marilyn Monroe back on the big screen

Controversial ‘Blonde’ movie out on Netflix


Fair use from Netflix

Eliah Fink

Marilyn Monroe has been out of the spotlight for quite a while, but only up until recently. “Blonde” gives an intimate perspective on Norma Jean’s life and the performance she put on for the world as Marilyn Monroe. This movie, based on the book “Blonde” by Joyce Carol Oates, is based on the life of and rumors about Jean. 

The main character Norma Jean, known by the world as Marilyn Monroe, is played by actress Ana de Armas. De Armas does an incredible job as Monroe, showing the dramatic difference between Jean and the character she plays in Hollywood. It is easy to see Jean putting on a performance when she becomes Monroe and you get to understand the mental and physical exertion it causes her. 

The acting of the other, more central characters is nothing incredible, but they fit their roles well. Gladys, Norma’s mother, is another very strongly portrayed character. Throughout the movie — despite her rough, abusive childhood — Jean continues to visit her mother, reminiscing on her previous life and how much has changed. It reminds her of how sad she could be and how happy someone in her position “should” be. How much more perfect could her life be? At what point would she get to feel happiness and contentment?

So what’s with the controversy? Controversial reactions to this movie have been based on a few things. The production is rated NC-17, which means it is only available in theaters for those over 18. This is because of one graphic sex scene and nudity throughout the movie, as well as a depiction of rape. It also shows a great amount of abuse she endured in both her life growing up and in her marriage. In one light, this may feel too intense, but it actually portrays the massive amounts of sexualization and abuse she had to deal with throughout her life. 

Some also criticize the movie for depicting a fictional version of the life of Jean. Marilyn Monroe, from life to death, is seen as a symbol of the beauty and the nightmare of Hollywood’s effect on a person. The film ultimately puts a spotlight on what real mental disorders can look like and how they can change someone’s life. Part of the concept of a biopic is dramatizing the life of whom it is based, but this movie may have falsified too much.

While going on for quite a while, with a runtime of 2 hours and 46 min, the movie is a bit slow-paced. Many of the scenes play out in complete silence. It is very much an artistic choice to do this, leaving the audience to form their own interpretations. This makes it interesting — even alluring — to watch, trying to keep up with Marilyn Monroe, constantly in the spotlight, but yet still mysterious.

“Blonde”: ★★★★☆