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The intrepid performance of Ana de Armas deserves a better film than ‘Rubia’ | CNN


The gap between a star’s performance and the film that contains it has rarely been greater than in “Blonde,” which features Ana de Armas stunningly capturing the look and feel of Marilyn Monroe in the service of a film that is pretentious. , heavy-handed and long to the point of exhaustion. Netflix is ​​sure to get some bang for its buck thanks in part to its restrictive NC-17 rating, but the film’s merits run out long before the credits roll.

Adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’s novel about Hollywood icon by writer-director Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the cowardly Robert Ford”), the film starts from the premise that the star frozen in time not only she suffered from the men around her, but also from society (meaning us) who leered at her even in the pre-internet era. It’s not a new or wrong take, but the tone is so self-conscious and surreal that it dulls those perceptions.

Blurring fact and fiction, “Blonde” begins with the very young Norma Jeane and her relationship with the mentally disturbed mother (Julianne Nicholson) who was forced to abandon her, returning again and again to the idea that she never stopped pining for she. father she did not know, while she sought to replace him with the famous men who courted, married and exploited her.

Norma Jeane eventually transforms into Marilyn Monroe, but even then she constantly speaks of her stellar persona in the third person, as if the image stands apart and completely separate from the human behind it.

The irony is that as much as the New Zealand-born director tries to humanize Marilyn, after numerous movies based on her life, including several made for television, this version fares better at portraying the family image by reproducing scenes from his movies. De Armas and the amazing hair, makeup, and costume work present those moments so mysteriously (occasionally mixed with images of Monroe’s co-stars) that you have to blink to make sure it’s not real.

– Source: CNN Business

Ana de Armas transforms into Marilyn Monroe in Netflix’s ‘Blonde’

Beyond that, the film drags on tirelessly through unhappy interludes in which the actress is used and abused, oscillating between color and black-and-white images in a way that feels arbitrary. Dominik also treats Monroe’s missed pregnancies with disgust by looking at the fetus inside her, which becomes symbolic of how over-the-top much of the film is.

Those excesses can’t entirely overshadow the fearless and vulnerable nature of de Armas’ performance, and he’s probably right that the NC-17 rating (a guideline suggesting only adults can enter theaters) isn’t deserved. given the equally avant-garde fare that hasn’t been done. I did not get it. On the other hand, the label seems to have a more secure basis when considering the general severity of the film than its sexuality.

Several supporting roles are also impressive, with Bobby Cannavale and Adrien Brody as Monroe’s husbands, Joe DiMaggio (again shown making a face during the filming of “The Seven Year Itch”) and playwright Arthur Miller, respectively.

Still, “Blonde” is almost entirely De Armas’ show, and as long as it’s worth sitting through, give it every ounce of credit. When she tells DiMaggio, “I’ve been happy all my life” in Monroe’s honeyed voice, the lie is as unconvincing as it is heartbreaking.

Netflix is ​​giving the film the now-usual short theatrical run after making its debut at the Venice Film Festival, but homes are surely where it’s most apt to watch it, especially given its 2hr 46min runtime. .

In a private setting, viewers will be able to take as many breaks as they need to weather the experience, but they won’t be able to escape the film’s unrelentingly creepy and direct approach. In fact, once you stop admiring de Armas’ immersion in the role, that’s the only itch “Blonde” seems to know how to scratch.

“Blonde” opens September 16 in select US theaters and September 28 on Netflix. It is rated NC-17.

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