The screen could never contain her, nor could those 2 hours and 47 minutes of Blonde (2022). Marilyn is larger than life itself, not even death has been able to spoil her figure. Scandals, food to feed morbidly hungry stomachs and the perfect fertilizer to make the figure even more enigmatic. Andrew Dominik knew that he was going to enter a rough terrain, that he was going to be put under the magnifying glass for the mere fact of approaching one of the figures who helped create the Hollywood industry. The seasoned director decided to undertake the task from the part that he is best at, the visual discourse. To put together his story, he relies on the homonymous novel by the American Joyce Carol Oates. At over 700 pages, the book, published in 2000, became a bestseller and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Between films for television, documentary series and productions for the big screen, one can count a little more than a dozen titles that deal in one way or another with the life or part of the life of Norma Jeane Mortenson, known in the entertainment world as Marilyn Monroe. For his Blonde Dominik decides to adapt Oates’s novel which, in the writer’s own words, gravitates in the field of fiction and should not be a biographical compass of the actress’s life. The first hurdle that Andrew Dominik seems to face is encapsulating those 700 pages in a script and this is reflected in the film’s excessive footage. Although the visual power is enormous, the weight of each minute is felt and exhausts us. The cinematography of Chayse Irvin (Hannah, God’s Creatures) is responsible for moving the story and the lack of dialogue makes Blonde a visual chronicle of beautiful images spliced with narrative rigor.
To carry his speech Dominik leans towards a kind of monologue expelled from the bowels of Marilyn herself and that leaves no room for other voices. Ana de Armas achieves a high-level performance and meets what her character demands. On the screen she absorbs us, and we can validate her as the iconic blonde, the lens only wants her, and this has an artistic and semantic purpose within the director’s proposal. The characters that come and go from her life are elements that serve to frame or accentuate her emotions. Blonde is the show of Ana de Armas in Monroe’s skin (literally in her skin), just like the real Marilyn did, the power of the central character is so strong that it engulfs everything.
Blonde captivates by the sharpness of her images that range from the most sublime moments to the darkest and most cumbersome moments. That is the trademark of Dominik who always commands his films with a formidable staging and is equally interested in complex and deep characters. Here everything is delivered in the form and each frame is taken care of in detail, but it is a titanic task to bear the weight of that footage that is extended on many occasions without a clear purpose. The story is a sequence of anecdotes that do not transcend to create a narrative that interests us beyond those brief fragments where technique is combined with memorable performances.