Blonde’s arrival on Netflix must be one of the year’s most talked about TV events. Would it have a theatrical release? Would it really be an NC-17? Why did it need a rating if it was going to be a Netflix movie? How would Anna De Armas successfully portray the world’s most famous blonde bombshell? Was it true to life or fictionalized? Would it be any good?
Well, now you will be able to answer most of those questions for yourself. Blonde has already had a limited theatrical release in movie theatres in USA and UK. It premiered at the 79th Venice Film Festival and is available to stream on Netflix. The reason it did not go straight to streaming and had a theatrical release was so that it could be nominated for Oscars. The Academy rules say that a film has to have a theatrical release of at least seven days. The rule was waived during the Covid-19 pandemic but this year came back into force.
Blonde is produced by Brad Pitt and directed by Andrew Dominik. In 2021 he directed “This Much I Know to Be True” – a movie about the last two studio albums of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. The pair obviously made an impression on Dominik, as they recorded the soundtrack for Blonde, and Cave is credited with the score.
In 2000 Joyce Carol Oates’s Blonde was one of the year’s best-selling novels. The movie is an adaptation of the book. The story is not one of glamour and success but shows a fictionalized, vulnerable side to Norma Jean, aka Marilyn Monroe. She was always impossible to pigeonhole – a world-famous sex symbol, a model, an actress, and a singer. This film tells the story of a vulnerable celebrity in an age before celebrity. Death did not diminish her power. Andy Warhol became mesmerized by her image and created the renowned screen prints of her enigmatic face. There have been countless films and documentaries about her. Playtech created a video slot called Marilyn Monroe which features on slot sites in the UK. That game has a feature called “How To Marry a Millionaire.”
Is it because of her ability to attract and marry rich and powerful men that the film has the NC-17 rating? It is reported that it has steamy sex scenes. Monroe married the baseball player Joe DiMaggio and the playwright Arthur Miller. Charlie Chaplin Junior was said to be her lover. She famously sang a very sexy version of Happy Birthday to John F Kennedy. However, some film critics have said that the rating is due to more than that. In GQ magazine, Jack King says that he found it ‘unrelenting in its brutality.’ Vanity Fair has also described it as a ‘commentary on modern celebrity. The director has said of the film that there is something in it to offend everyone. So if you are hoping for a gentle evening of glamour and glitz, this might not be the film for you.
Blonde is not a documentary but a story about a woman viewed through the eyes of a celebrity lens. It shows Monroe as a victim, forever caught in flashbulbs and camera shutters. But, like so many women who followed her into fame and starlight, it shows how society builds up and pulls down those it adores. Ana de Armas, who plays the lead role, must be acutely aware of the trajectory her life might follow as Blonde catapults her into the spotlights.
No Time to Die was the breakthrough film for the Cuban-Spanish actor de Armas. She had other notable appearances in The Gray Man, Deep Water, Blade Runner 2049, and Knives Out. She said she needed to learn everything she could about Monroe to play her in this picture. It is not a physical transformation. Instead, she said that she had to understand her intelligence and fragility. Like Monroe, de Armas has a beloved pooch. Her dog Elvis appears as Monroe’s dog Mafia.