Marilyn Monroe has been called “the most beautiful woman in the world.” We have gained some insights into her life and career through her own films (Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer blonds, The Seven Year Itch, and more than 25 others) as well as books and films about her. Blonde is based on Joyce Carol Oates’s 1999 fictional work about her life. Writer and director Andrew Dominik has created a nearly three-hour movie covering her birth, childhood, modeling career, and film stardom, all the way through her assumed suicide at the age of 36.
Although other portraits of Marilyn have given us mixed perspectives on her life, this film cannot be called a tribute to her beauty or her acting. Scene after scene reveals this Marilyn (Ana de Armas) to be the poster girl for the abused and exploited woman. Here are some examples.
A Dysfunction Family. It seems a miracle that Marilyn survived her childhood given the cruel treatment by her mother (Julianne Nicholson), who was eventually hospitalized for mental illness.
The Missing Father. Marilyn never knew who her father was, a loss that shaped and twisted her relationships with men. Missing him, she called her husbands “Daddy” as she sought their guidance in her life. And they obliged by trying to control her activities.
The Myth of Hollywood Success. Marilyn bought whole-heartedly into the moral vacuousness of celebrityhood and the media that supported it. Even when she tried to break free, she could not escape the constant pressure and became its victim.
Sexually Assaulted. To advance her career and achieve the fame and acclaim she was told she deserved, Marilyn allowed herself to be sexually abused by studio heads and even the President of the United States.
Failed Marriages. Seeking a father figure and a way out of Hollywood, Marilyn married two famous men: baseball player Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale) and playwright Arthur Miller (Adrien Brody). Neither approved of her way of getting attention, which became blows to her self-esteem.
Betrayed by Friends. Marilyn clings to a friendship with two Hollywood hunks: Charlie “Cass” Chaplin Jr. (Xavier Samuel) and Edward “Eddy” G. Robinson Jr. (Evan William) but fails to recognize the jealousy at work in their relationship. Knowing her yearnings, they exploited rather than supported her.
To Think About
“What good is a nation where everybody runs around feeling bad about themselves? That can’t be great. And when we think about women specifically, they’re the cradles of civilization. If women are the ones that are birthing us, bringing life to us all, what benefit can there be for us to make them feel bad? I think society would be a better place if people were healthier emotionally.”
–Darryl Roberts, director of America the Beautiful