The wait is finally over! Blonde premieres today on Netflix.
The much-anticipated movie will have Marilyn Monroe fans locked to their screens as the more-than-two-hour film takes viewers through the life journey of Norma Jeane Baker.
Blonde is a fictional portrait of Marilyn Monroe that reimagines the tumultuous private life of the Hollywood icon and the price she paid for fame.
Monroe has been dead for 60 years, but there is still a kind of excitement around her that remains, even today.
Just look at the frenzied discourse around Blonde, an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ fictional portrait of the Hollywood star that has yet to be seen by the general public.
There was intrigue around its NC-17 rating and the reasons for its long delay in release (it was filmed before the pandemic).
There was also curiosity about its star, Ana de Armas, and her native Cuban accent slipping through in the trailer.
But, its director Andrew Dominik, who has been trying to make this film for well over a decade, calls it a masterpiece.
Blonde got a rapturous reception at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, but reactions from film critics have been divided.
Some love Dominik’s treatment. Others have wondered if it is exploitative. The New Yorker even called it, “A grave disservice to the woman it purports to honor”.
It is not dissimilar to the responses to Oates’ novel in 2000. Or even the discussion around the much-tamer film, My Week with Marilyn, which garnered Michelle Williams an Oscar nomination for her performance.
But they all invite questions about our own relationship with Monroe, what we owe her and what we still demand from her.
Dominik, for his part, has read many of the reviews. In some ways, he said both the positive and negative reactions are indicative of its success.
Like it or not, Blonde does not want you to feel good about what happened to Monroe.
“The film’s a horror film,” Dominik said earlier this week.
“It’s supposed to be an absolute onslaught. It’s a howl of pain. It’s an expression of rage.”
Blonde takes viewers on a surreal journey through the short life of Norma Jeane Baker, from her childhood with a single mother living with schizophrenia (Julianne Nicholson), to her superficial successes in Hollywood as Marilyn Monroe.
It looks at her marriages to baseball star Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale) and playwright Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody), her addiction, her mistreatment and assaults, her abortions, her miscarriage and her death, at 36, of a barbiturate overdose.
It’s a moment a lot of people have been waiting for, but perhaps no one more so than de Armas, who finished work on Blonde back in 2019.
Her raw and vulnerable performance has been widely praised, even in the more negative reviews.
“I do trust what we did,” de Armas said. “I love this film.”