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KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs at 7:20 a.m., during the Noon News and in The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington and Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review | 'Blonde'


The film “Blonde” came out last year amid controversy on multiple fronts. It's now on the minds of Netflix viewers as the film’s star, Ana de Armas, garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

I don’t know what it was, the pitfall of too many movies - too little time, or the NC-17 rating - I typically avoid those - but the film “Blonde” escaped my attention when it dropped on Netflix last year. Only when the star, Ana de Armas, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role did the film get back on my radar and I decided to give it a shot.

“Blonde” is a story about, you guessed it, Marilyn Monroe. It’s not the first film depicting the tragedy of this icon’s life, nor will it be the last. But one thing is for certain, it will keep your attention for almost three hours, even if it’s like watching a car crash.

The film is based on a fictional novel by Joyce Carol Oates which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2001. The word fiction must be remembered when watching “Blonde.” What’s true and what’s not is anyone’s guess. I didn’t realize the film wasn’t telling an accurate depiction until after the fact. Which begged the question, why did it need to be told?

What’s the point of putting this tragic, abused, exploited, dead icon through the ringer, yet again, and not even accurately portray her life? Hmmmm.

The film is directed by Andrew Dominik and at the time of the film’s release he said the film will offend everyone. He may be right.

I felt like the film spent a lot of time raping, mocking, and abusing Monroe without telling the story of her strengths. Wasn’t she more than pills and booze and meltdowns?

And yet I still watched it, barely getting up for a bathroom break, and honestly couldn’t take my eyes off Armas. She’s Cuban and her accent is detected in her portrayal, which even mesmerized me more. A Cuban actress portraying one of the most famous Americans to walk the planet. That was bold and it worked.

Adrien Brody portrays a sensitive, patient, and kind Arthur Miller, who is emotionally detached and dealing with an already spiraling Monroe by the time they’re married. Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale) starts off tender and then quickly turns violent.

An imagined throuple with Charlie Chaplin Jr. (Xavier Samuel) and Edward G. Robinson Jr. (Evan Williams) gives new meaning to three-way. The love these three shared in the film made me feel that someone in her life cared for her. Those scenes were smoldering and seductive. It would be a tragedy if that was fictionalized because it seems to be the only relationship where she was fully adored and seen for who she is.

Too bad Monroe had to leave us before the #MeToo movement; before there was a national conversation about rape and abuse. She could have flourished. She would have been more than just a Blonde.