Blond – ‘exploitative’ or ‘phenomenal’? What has been said about the divisive Marilyn Monroe biography

In May, Andrew Dominik – the director of BlondeNetflix’s upcoming biopic of Marilyn Monroe – predicted the film would “offend everyone”.

A few months later, and he’s proven right.

The movie isn’t even out yet (it’s scheduled for release on Netflix on September 28), but the trailer, with No time to die and Knives out star Ana de Armas as the late screen icon, has already divided opinion.

The controversy is partly due to the fact that Blonde is the first film produced by Netflix to carry the rarely awarded US NC-17 rating, the US equivalent of an 18 certificate, for its sexual content. Some fans are concerned that the film may be exploitative.

Here’s an overview of what people have had to say about the project, from high praise to heavy criticism…

The blonde director Andrew Dominik

Talking about how Blonde was originally scheduled to come out in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic, Dominik said: “It’s an interesting time for Blonde to come out. If it had come out a few years ago, it would have come out right when MeToo hit and it would have been an expression of all that.

“We’re in a time now, I think, where people are very uncertain about where some lines are. It’s a film that definitely has a moral to it. But it swims in very ambiguous waters because I don’t think it’s so cut and dried as people want to see it.

“There is something in it that offends everyone.”

He has also been quoted as saying: “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the damn audience’s problem. [The film is] not run for public office.”

Ana de Armas i

Ana de Armas in “Blonde” (Netflix)

Adrien Brody (who stars as Arthur Miller, the revered playwright and Monroe’s husband) in the film, similarly predicted that there would be “some controversy” surrounding the film’s release.

Blonde author Joyce Carol Oates

The film is an adaptation of a 2000 biographical fiction novel written by Oates.

Speaking in July after seeing the film, Oates appeared to give the film her stamp of approval.

“Andrew Dominik is a very brilliant director,” she said. “I think he succeeded in showing the experience of Norma Jeane Baker [Monroe’s real name] from her perspective, rather than seeing it from the outside, the male gaze looking at a woman.

“He immersed himself in her perspective.”

Viewers of the trailer

In July, when the trailer was released, many fans were critical.

“Contact Marilyn Monroe via the ouija board to tell her that my view of Blonde the trailer is the only one with her best interests at heart,” one person tweeted.

Another wrote: “That Blonde the trailer gave me “collage of Marilyn’s pop culture moments” vibes. It doesn’t read like a biography, more like an exploitation film masquerading as one.”

Some have also posted comments about De Armas — who is Cuban-Spanish — and her accent in the trailer.

“I think Ana de Armas is an amazing actress and looks great as Marilyn BUT I still hear her accent in the Blonde trailer and it takes her out of character for me,” one tweeted.

Adrien Brody and Ana de Armas in

Adrien Brody and Ana de Armas in “Blonde” (Netflix)

Marilyn Monroe’s estate

Marilyn Monroe’s estate defended De Armas’ casting. In a statement, the estate said that “any actor stepping into that role knows they have big shoes to fill.”

Marc Rosen, president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, which owns the Marilyn Monroe Estate, said: “Marilyn Monroe is an unparalleled Hollywood and pop culture icon that transcends generations and history.

“Based on the trailer alone, it looks like Ana was a great casting choice as she captures Marilyn’s glamour, humanity and vulnerability. We can’t wait to see the full film!”

De Armas has previously said it took her nine months to learn to speak like Monroe, calling the process a “huge torture” and “so exhausting.”

If she nailed her voice, De Armas said: “I tried! It only took me nine months of dialect coaching, and practice, and some ADR sessions [rerecording dialogue after filming]. It was a great torture, so exhausting. My brain was fried.”

Read our overview of the 12 worst fake accents in film here.

Lace producer Brad Pitt

Pitt, who produced the film through his Plan B production banner, spoke out in support of De Armas.

“She’s phenomenal at it,” he said. “It’s a tough dress to fill. It was 10 years in the making. It wasn’t until we found Ana that we could get it over the finish line.”

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