Starring Ana de Armas as Monroe and based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, the film is a reimagining of the professional and personal life of the enduring Hollywood icon.
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Starting with a volatile childhood as Norma Jeane, the fictional spin follows Monroe through her rise to stardom and in and out of her romantic entanglements. The film’s an active blurring between fact and fiction that explores a growing split between Monroe’s public and private self.
The one-minute teaser plays a haunting track of Monroe’s hit Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend over flickering shots of a few of Monroe’s more iconic moments in the spotlight, as well as the overwhelming media attention and the loneliness of being a star.
In an interview for Netflix’s Queue, de Armas calls Dominik’s ambitions for the film “very clear from the start — to present a version of Marilyn Monroe’s life through her lens.
“He wanted the world to experience what it actually felt like to not only be Marilyn, but also Norma Jeane,” she continued. “I found that to be the most daring, unapologetic and feminist take on her story that I had ever seen.”
As for the writer-director, Dominik says it’s an examination of someone “deeply traumatized,” resulting in a split between her public self and a private self, which for “a famous person, that often plays out publicly, in ways that may cause additional trauma.” As result, “the film’s very much concerned with the relationship with herself and with this other persona, Marilyn, which is both her armor and the thing that is threatening to consume her.”
De Armas said for the 47-day shoot, which required multiple hours in the hair and makeup chair, she not only read Oates’ novel but studied hundreds of photographs, videos, audio recordings and films. The result is a movie that is “not linear or conventional; it is meant to be a sensorial and emotional experience.”
She adds, “There are moments when we are inside of her body and mind, and this will give the audience an opportunity to experience what it was like to be Norma and Marilyn at the same time.”
The director also says the movie is more than its NC-17 rating. “I seem to get myself in these situations where people regard me as provocative, but it’s never what I’m trying to do,” he explained. “I’m just trying to say it as clearly as I can. My ambition is to make you fall in love with Marilyn.”
The movie is not the first NC-17 title to stream on Netflix but is among the streamer’s first produced titles to garner the rare rating from the Motion Picture Association.
The film also stars Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Evan Williams, Julianne Nicholson, Xavier Samuel, Scoot McNairy, Garret Dillahunt and Lucy DeVito. Blonde is produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Tracey Landon and Scott Robertson, with Christina Oh serving as executive producer. The film drops on Netflix on Sept. 23.
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