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"Blonde": Why did it Anger a Sector of Feminism?

“Blonde” has been Showered with Criticism, both Good and Bad. Here we tell you What has been Said About this Controversial Film.

Frame from the movie 'Blonde'

Photo: YT-Netflix

LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: "Blonde": ¿por qué enfureció a un sector del feminismo?

Since its premiere on Netflix on September 16, "Blonde" has not stopped being a topic of conversation on social networks. The film, directed and written by Andrew Dominik and starring the Cuban Ana de Armas, had been generating excitement since it was announced as a biopic of the life of Marilyn Monroe in the summer of 2019, at which time it was also announced that de Armas would play as the Californian diva

The film, based on the novel of the same name by author Joyce Carol Oates, follows Marilyn Monroe's rise to fame, her mental struggles, and her untimely death at age 36.

The critics of the film are divided, on the one hand the brilliance of the director and writer, and the interpretation of de Armas are praised; on the other side there is outrage at the portrayal of Norma Jean (real name of the Hollywood star) as demeaned, misogynistic and sexualized.

The good reviews

If the positive reviews of the film have agreed on something, it is on two factors: on the one hand, on the wonderful performance of Ana de Armas, whose role was questioned because she is Latin and has an accent. But, after the premiere, her participation has been the most praised. For Vulture 's Bilge Eberi, "The role of Marilyn Monroe inhabits Ana de Armas, like a tortured, possibly malevolent spirit [...] She is beautiful, hypnotic and, at times, deeply moving." Her work has been called monumental, portentous, unprecedented. In the words of Diego Lerer, from MicropsiaCine.com, the true revelation of the film is the main actress. At the premiere at the Venice International Festival, it was she who received the most applause.

On the other hand, critics highlight the ability of the film to move the fibers of its viewers due to its sad and painful nature, which it achieves from its cinematography that is artistically constructed from photography, staging, costumes and music. For BBC 's Rafaela Sales Rose, “Blonde”, “far from being impeccable in her haunting gaze, her greatest merit is her frankness: she tells you what she's about to do and then she does it”.

These two important aspects cannot be ignored, but despite its good reception, it has received both bad and good reviews.

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The bad reviews

In 2020, when the announcement of the release date was still awaited, Dominik promised, perhaps to further hype his film, that he would "offend everyone", claiming that by looking at Monroe's life from a perspective in which shows her as a victim of sexual and psychological abuse throughout her life, viewers, and especially women, would feel uncomfortable.

And he kept his promise. The film has generated outrage over the portrayal of the Hollywood star, which was limited to a perspective in which she is a victim. Taking into account that this was a biopic, in the eyes of many, the film sought to generate curiosity by centering all its development around that aspect of Marilyn Monroe: sexual icon. For the Volcánicas portal, the male gaze that Dominik applies to writing and directing is evident in the figure of the crazy mother and in the stereotype that women rise to fame in exchange for sexual favors.

This has been seen as an insult to the figure of Monroe and her career, who is continually reduced to her sexuality. For Manohla Dargis of The New York Times, Marilyn Monroe “was an actress of rare talent. But then again, a director is more interested in examining her body (literally, in this case) than her mind. Watching 'Blonde' I wondered if Dominik had ever seen a Marilyn Monroe movie, seen her transcendent talent, her comedic brilliance, her mannerisms and her grace". A scene in which a fetus literally speaks to Monroe and complains about having aborted her brother, when, firstly, it is known that the actress had several miscarriages and, secondly, it is a pro-life moralistic and political scene.

Although Dominik assured on several occasions that the purpose of showing Marilyn Monroe in this way was to denounce how the entertainment industry has passed over women, most of his viewers have agreed that he is also part of that industry that passed and returns to pass over the Hollywood star.