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Movies & TV

09th Sep 2022

There was a very mixed reaction at the premiere of Netflix’s first adults-only movie

Rory Cashin

One of the most-talked-about movies of the year is finally almost upon us.

There has been a lot of noise around Blonde ever since it was revealed to be Netflix’s first ever adults-only movie.

A few months back, the movie was rated NC-17 in the States – the equivalent to an 18s certificate in Ireland – for its sexual content, making it the first ever Netflix movie to receive that certification.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Killing Them Softly), Blonde is based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, which focuses on several of the more high profile “stories” from Monroe’s life, including her traumatic childhood, her affair with President John F. Kennedy and the rumours that her death was actually a murder.

Monroe is played by Ana De Armas (Knives Out, No Time To Die), and she’s joined on screen by Adrien Brody (The Pianist, Succession), Bobby Cannavale (Spy, Boardwalk Empire) and Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown, Masters of Sex).

Considering the attention it had received months before it was released, all attention was then set on finding out… well… if the movie was actually any good or not.

This week, Blonde received its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, which ended in a 14-minute standing ovation (which is one minute longer than this year’s festival’s previous ovation record holder), so signs were pointing towards something fantastic.

But then the actual reviews landed, and it is a big of a mixed bag, to say the least.

They range from all-praise and five-star responses, such as:

Variety – “4 out of 5. With a passion that’s inquisitive, nearly meditative, and often powerful, Blonde focuses on the mystery we now think of when we think of Marilyn Monroe: Who was she, exactly, as a personality and as a human being? Why did her life descend into a tragedy that seems, in hindsight, as inevitable as it is haunting?”

Total Film – “5 Stars. Uncomfortable viewing, then, but also engaging, unbridled cinema that will prompt discourse and divide opinions.”

Vulture – “9 out of 10. Blonde is beautiful, mesmerising, and, at times, deeply moving. But it’s also alienating – again, by design – constantly turning the camera on the viewer, sometimes with Marilyn directly addressing it. That’s going to be a tough sell, especially for a film that’s so nonlinear and elliptical.”

While some outlets did not vibe with the movie at all:

ScreenDaily – “Technically-skilled, well-acted and fatally over-long, it’s hard not to see Blonde as a chronicle of exploitation and abuse which merrily carries on the tradition – a sensation reinforced by Ana de Armas’s poignant performance as Marilyn.”

TimeOut – “For all its freedom to reimagine her life and rescue her from cultural victimhood, Blonde is just a bit too willing to chuck her overboard and watch her flounder.”

SlashFilm – “De Armas’ dazzling screen presence is inarguable. But with a disjointed directorial eye and a messy script, de Armas is simply doing the best she can within the chaotic world of Monroe’s life, but also the chaotic world the film itself forces her to be a part of.”

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait long before we can decide for ourselves.

Blonde will screen in select Irish and UK cinemas from Friday, 23 September, before landing on Netflix on Wednesday, 28 September.

Clip via Netflix

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