All Marilyn Monroe movies are exploitative. But the nightmare blonde actually shows you in her vagina

Ana de Armas in “Blonde” (Netflix)

Bwave, the new Netflix film from Andrew Dominick, adds as much nuance to the idea of ​​Marilyn Monroe as you can glean from a gynecological examination. The bombshell movie star has long established herself as a tragic figure, a woman who was abused by Hollywood studios, her husband Joe DiMaggio, and her sick mother as a child. Instead of challenging the traditional narrative, director Dominik’s nightmarish film, adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 fictionalized novel, takes it somewhere even darker and more aggressive. If you want to understand Marilyn Monroe, you first have to get inside her womb.

This dark drama takes us several times into the previously unexplored depths of Marilyn Monroe’s vagina during the astonishing duration of 2 hours and 45 minutes. I won’t “spoil” them all, but in the first hour of the film we watch Monroe, played with abject weakness by Ana de Armas, frantically clutch her stomach as the camera pans across her glowing womb – complete with a spectrally illuminated fetus. A few scenes later, we follow Marilyn on the operating table, where the doctors are performing an abortion that she did not consent to. “Please, won’t you listen? I’ve changed my mind,” she pleads as her doctor inserts a speculum, a procedure horribly depicted head-on, from the point of view of Marilyn’s very cervix.

Dominique insists on animating his film, which itself seems derived from Rita Hayworth’s famous line about her most iconic and alluring film role: “Men go to bed with Gilda and wake up with me.” in Blonde, swindlers and con artists hoping for a slice of Hollywood stardom find instead a more timid, desperate woman named Norma Jean, who happens to look exactly like Marilyn Monroe. This may be interesting as a passing observation, but the film repeats this point over and over again. “She’s pretty, but that’s not me,” says Norma Jean, looking at her glamorous magazine photo. “B*** Marilyn,” Norma Jean yells into the phone later. “She’s not here.”

If Dominique’s point is that Marilyn is an invention – “a child’s first toy”, one of her lovers cryptically observes – then perhaps these scenes of excruciating body horror are the director’s sadistic means of reminding us that she is more than her two-dimensional projection . If you forced Marilyn Monroe to have an unwanted abortion, wouldn’t she scream in speechless agony? And if Norma Jean becomes pregnant again many years from now, does her unborn fetus not acquire the capacity for human language?

I promise you read that right. In one of the film’s most disturbing scenes, Marilyn’s surprisingly chatty fetus, who somehow also knows about her previous abortion, pleads with its owner to let this pregnancy continue. It is not just “living” in the eyes Blonde, it has a will. Marilyn hears it. She answers it out loud as if they are talking. I had to watch this scene a few times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but I wasn’t – right in the middle Blondethere is a madman Look who’s talking prequel

Politically, these scenes of a woman weighed down by years of regret over an abortion are highly controversial. As a mode of storytelling, they are completely alienating. Marilyn Monroe never seems smaller real to me than when she is talking merrily to the unborn child in her fantastically glowing womb. Should we believe that all movie stars are lit from within?

Also, Marilyn never feels more like a Hollywood plaything than when Dominique subjects her to bloody sexual and medical abuse, literally probing her and barbarically portraying what it’s like to be one of the most famous women of the 20th century from the inside. Blonde this is not a movie about Exploitation of Marilyn Monroe, but a new edge in the treatment of her in Hollywood – a sexual object, reduced to a genital organ.

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