REVIEW – Andrew Dominik’s film, which is released on Netflix this Wednesday, September 28, is a bold adaptation of the eponymous novel by Joyce Carol Oates. With the formidable Cuban actress Ana de Armas in the role of Marilyn Monroe.
It begins with a photo of his father. With his mustache, he’s the Clark Gable lookalike. She shouldn’t tell anyone. With her Shirley Temple curls and her innocent look, little Norma Jean keeps quiet. This secret will devour her. Here is an American story, therefore universal. Almost three hours, it took that to transpose the thousand pages of the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, a feverish and sticky masterpiece. In pictures, it is more difficult to delve into the psyche of a star. Andrew Dominik walks away with the honors of war. The poisonous side is there. It is a first person film. Perhaps it is better to have read the book before, to fill in the ellipses, to identify certain protagonists.
With a skimming camera, the director flies over this extraordinary career, from the brutal meeting with Darryl Zanuck in his office to the final dereliction. The metamorphosis of the ordinary young girl into a sex symbol is scrutinized. Men are interested in her physique. She would like more. It was fragility with perfect measurements, a peroxide bomb. There was this duality of the pin-up who dreamed of being taken seriously.
The set has breath
The reconstruction of the films is amazing. It is difficult to disentangle the true from the false. Here she is insulting Billy Wilder on the set of Some like it hot. Obviously, we are entitled to the scene on the metro entrance in Seven years of reflection. In the crowd watching the star, her husband Joe DiMaggio fumes (Bobby Cannavale excels in the striped suits of the ex-baseball champion, rital to the end of the spaghetti). Adrien Brody is less convincing with Arthur Miller glasses. This is a detail. The whole has breath, mouth. Miscarriages, abortions punctuate this descent into hell followed by tabloids around the world. Marilyn speaks to the fetus which is growing in her womb, throws tantrums, swallows handfuls of tablets, whistles solid swigs of alcohol.
What Ana de Armas does in there is truly unheard of. It is magic, reincarnation. The Cuban actress reproduces the look, the facial expressions, the tremors of her model. We feel her vulnerable and determined, eager for romance and forming a perverse trio with the sons of Chaplin and Edward G. Robinson. She makes plausible this lost kid who visited her mother in a psychiatric asylum, kept with her the stuffed tiger of her childhood and who didn’t know if this Marilyn she had invented was her luck or her curse. We won’t forget the drive through the burning hills of Hollywood or the hasty meeting with Kennedy in a New York hotel.
Despite the somewhat gratuitous transitions from black and white to color, from square format to the big screen, Blonde hair shakes up the biopic genre in a cocktail of lipstick and crumpled sheets.