‘Blonde’ Review: Ana de Armas Does Just What You Want — She Becomes Marilyn Monroe — in Andrew Dominik’s Flawed but Haunting Biopic
Owen Gleiberman Chief Film Critic A good biopic invites the audience to experience, from the inside out, who the subject really was. That’s the level that “Blonde,” Andrew Dominik’s film about Marilyn Monroe, operates on for most of its 2 hours and 46 minutes. Based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel, the movie is a hushed and floating psychodramatic Klieg-light fantasia, shot in color and black-and-white, that presents a fusion of reality and fiction. But most of it is torn from reality. In “Blonde,” we glimpse Monroe’s cataclysmic childhood, watch her shoot key scenes from her movies or stare up at them from the audience of a Hollywood premiere (where the red-carpet flashbulbs sound like guns), see her turn the incandescent Marilyn wiggle and pizzazz on and off, see her caught in a maelstrom of drugs, gossip, self-hate, and unfair studio contracts, and watch her melt into the glow of pregnancy only to lose one baby after the next. Mostly, we eavesdrop on her relationships with men (Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, JFK) who become, for Marilyn, a dysfunctional daisy chain of honeymoon-turned-nightmares.