A little over ten years ago, My Week With Marilyn combined biographical information and the word of a personal assistant to delve deeper into the private life of Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Taking this leap into the beauty icon’s psyche even further is Blonde, which is entirely based on Joyce Carol Oates‘ fictional novel of the same name. While taking significant artistic liberties in understanding the woman we may have never truly understood, Andrew Dominik‘s film is a personal, thorough, and watch-worthy interpretation of the star’s journey to, and through, fame.
Blonde follows Marilyn, originally known as Norma Jeane (Ana de Armas), from her troubled childhood into adulthood, where she rises from modeling to the movies. Viewers enjoy all the world has expected to see from the starlet–sex appeal, scandal, paparazzi, and a trail of husbands. Yet the audience receives a somber side to her tale, one full of abuse, violence, manipulation, drugs, and mental illness. Here’s how you can watch the movie.
When Can I Watch Blonde?
Blonde premiered at Venice International Film Festival on September 8, 2022. The film began a limited theatrical release at the New York City Paris Theater on September 16, 2022. On September 23, select theaters across the United States and the United Kingdom will also feature the film. Blonde comes to streaming on Netflix on September 28.
What Is Blonde’s Rating?
Blonde is rated with a rare NC-17 rating for some graphic sexual content. This rating means only adult viewers—ages 18 and up—will be permitted into theaters to watch the film. An NC-17 label was bound to cause a stir. Less than 100 films have received the NC-17 rating since it was established separately from the X rating in 1990. Blonde features a graphic rape scene and a vaginal point-of-view camera shot. Netflix was hesitant to release an NC-17 film, wanting content cut to reduce the rating to R, but director Dominik refused. Critics have questioned the controversial content Blonde includes and what it serves in sharing an interpretation of Marilyn Monroe’s story. Both Dominik and leading lady Armas have defended the film’s content, stating it as necessary, raw, and real. Armas, in particular, has disagreed with the rating.
Netflix dropped the official trailer for Blonde on July 28, 2022.
What Have the Creators Said About Blonde?
The director of Blonde, Andrew Dominik, considers this fresh film to be at the top of his favorites among his work. Despite controversy surrounding its NC-17 rating, content, and even the choice of casting Ana de Armas, he stands behind the film. He wrote Blonde in 2008, and since then, he has remained dedicated to the story.
“Blonde is a movie for all the unloved children of the world,” Dominik said, in an interview with Collider. “It’s like Citizen Kane and Raging Bull had a baby daughter.”
Blonde isn’t simply a movie about Marilyn Monroe. It is also an exploration of childhood trauma, how it affects adult life, and how this tragic combination in a person develops under the spotlight. Dominik expands further on how Blonde doesn’t exactly tell a happy tale of a movie star:
“And it’s a tragedy. It’s a sort of like an unwanted child who becomes the most wanted woman in the world and has to deal with all of the desire that is directed at her and how confusing that is. It’s kind of a nightmare. It’s about being in a car with no brakes. It’s just going faster and faster and faster.”
The author of the source material, Joyce Carol Oates, praises Dominik for the Blonde film adaptation. According to Collider’s article on her comments, Oates is quoted describing him as “a very brilliant director” who “immersed himself” in Marilyn’s perspective, rather than providing a cheap male gaze objectifying a woman. Oates also approves of the casting for the lead, calling Ana de Armas a “wonderful actress.” Oates’s novel, also titled Blonde, showed the film industry’s exploitation of Marilyn Monroe and how it so cruelly affected her life. Dominik’s film portrays this heartbreaking portion of Monroe’s narrative, especially in how powerful men take advantage of a girl with dreams.
How Is the Critical Reception of Blonde?
Collider’s review of Blonde, written by Brian Formo, describes the film as “a powder keg of a movie; it is beautiful, mesmerizing, contemptuous, distressing, and extremely volatile” and a true cinematic adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’s book. According to Formo, the movie is a trauma piece that establishes Marilyn Monroe as a desperate, hopeful dreamer who, as she reaches for stardom, loses her grounded, human identity as Norma Jeane. Additionally, the abuse and rape of her beauty serve as a way of chronicling her life. “It is the most shocking body horror movie of the year,” Formo concludes, granting Blonde an A-.
More Films on Iconic Women That You Can Watch Now
Judy: English director Rupert Goold directs the 2019 biopic drama Judy, which is a cinematic version of Peter Quilter‘s 2005 Broadway play End of the Rainbow. Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger), now in her forties and losing her children to her third and divorced husband, Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell), is struggling personally and financially. The child star of The Wizard of Oz has lost her special touch and the endearing nature which made her so beloved (and abused) by Hollywood. Judy charts the actress’s final performance tour through England, during which she further declined due to depression and substance abuse.
The film exposes how her addiction to pills stemmed from how she was a victim of child abuse in the film industry, forced to take medication and overwork herself for the sake of moneymaking. Zellweger won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and SAG Award for her part in the film. Judy is streaming now on Vudu and Hoopla.
Frida: Julie Taymor directs the 2002 biopic drama Frida, which follows the life, loves, and art of renowned Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Frida (Salma Hayek) is injured in a freak accident in 1925, leaving her warring with her body for the rest of her life while she pursues a career as an artist. She seeks the professional counsel of muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina), who she soon marries. Frida explores Frida’s passion as an individual, taking on male and female lovers, and her life as a surrealist artist. The film also charts her tumultuous relationship with Rivera.
Frida is streaming now on HBO Max and Tubi TV.
Lovelace: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman direct the 2013 biographical drama, Lovelace. Audiences get an inside look at the personal life of Linda Susan Boreman, who was better known by her porn stage name, Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried). Before she starred in Deep Throat and rose as a major name in the Golden Age of Porn, Linda was like any other young woman, living with her parents and struggling to make a life for herself. Falling in love with an older man, Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), proves to be her escape, career opportunity, and much later, the source of horrific abuses. Lovelace pulls no punches when exposing the gritty reality behind Linda Lovelace’s polished persona and supposedly glamorous life.
Lovelace is available for rent or purchase on Prime Video and Vudu.
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