BLondon, Andrew Dominik’s new Netflix film, adds as much nuance to the idea of Marilyn Monroe as can be gleaned from a gynecological exam. The movie star has long been established as a tragic figure, a woman who was abused by Hollywood studios, her husband Joe DiMaggio, and as a child her sick mother. Instead of challenging the conventional narrative, director Dominik’s nightmare, adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 fictionalized novel, takes it somewhere even darker and even more invasive. To understand Marilyn Monroe, it seems, you must first step into her womb.
This dark drama repeatedly takes us into the hitherto unexplored depths of Marilyn Monroe’s vagina in an astonishing duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes. I won’t “spoil” them all, but in the first hour of the film, we see Monroe playing it with shocking fragility Ana de Armas, excitedly clutches her belly as the camera cuts to her glowing womb — complete with spectrally illuminated fetus. A few scenes later, we follow Marilyn on the operating table, where the doctors perform an abortion to which she did not consent. “Please, won’t you listen? I’ve changed my mind,” she pleads as the doctor inserts a speculum into her – a procedure gruesomely shown head-on, from the point of view of Marilyn’s own cervix.
Dominik insists on the animated principle of his film, which seems derived from Rita Hayworth’s famous line about her most iconic and attractive film role: “Men go to bed with Gilda and wake up with me.” inside Blonde, pimps and ambassadors hoping for a slice of Hollywood stardom find instead a more timid, desperate woman named Norma Jeane, who happens to look just like Marilyn Monroe. This might be interesting as a passing observation, but the film makes this point over and over again. “She’s pretty, but I’m not me,” says Norma Jeane, looking at her glamorous magazine photo. “Damn Marilyn,” Norma Jeane later yells into the phone. “She’s not here.”
If Dominik’s point is that Marilyn is an invention—”a child’s first toy,” one of her lovers cryptically observes—then perhaps these scenes of excruciating body horror are the director’s sadistic means of reminding us that she is more than a two-dimensional projection of herself. If you subject Marilyn Monroe to the force of an unwanted abortion, doesn’t she scream out loud? And if Norma Jeane becomes pregnant again years later, doesn’t her unborn fetus acquire the ability to speak humanly?
I promise you, you read that right. In one of the film’s most disturbing body sequences, Marilyn’s surprisingly chatty fetus—which also somehow knows about her previous miscarriage—begs its host to let this pregnancy continue. It is not only “alive” in the eyes Blonde, has a will. Marilyn can hear. He answers this out loud as if they are talking. I had to watch this scene several times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but no – right in the middle Blondehe’s crazy over there Look who’s talking prequel.
In terms of politics, these scenes of a woman burdened with years of abortion regret are highly controversial. As a mode of storytelling, they are completely alienated. Marilyn Monroe never seems smaller real to me as when she is happily talking to the unborn child in her fantastically glowing womb. Am I to believe that all movie stars are lit from within?
Likewise, Marilyn never feels more like a Hollywood plaything than when Dominik subjects her to bloody sexual and medical violence, literally examines her and barbarically shows what it feels like to be one of the most famous women of the 20th century, from the inside out. Blonde it’s not a movie approximately Exploitation of Marilyn Monroe, but a new low watermark in Hollywood’s treatment of her – a sexual object reduced to a genital organ.