Dominik throws everything he can think of at the screen, but in a way that almost seems desperate to impress, as if he had inklings that he had gotten himself caught up in a wrongheaded idea but had no choice but to plow on regardless. Characterisation is weak, and far too much of the dialogue comes across like a psychological report that is being given for the edification of an audience who need to be disabused of their Hollywood-generated fantasies.
It is worth saying a little more. The presentation of Monroe herself as a perpetually passive victim is wholly unconvincing (seeming like even more of a fantasy than ever), as if concocted by people with no insight into human life and perhaps motivated by their own resentment or their own anxieties. At first, I thought it may have been the author’s resentment at the success brought by her protagonist’s “blondeness”, to quote an old New York Times interview. On further reflection, however, Joyce Carol Oates seems to have an at least slightly more balanced and genuine perspective than is expressed in the movie version, so perhaps the real issue is some kind of bad turn taken by Dominik in the extended exploration of celebrity, masculinity and violence that he seems to have been pursuing ever since Chopper, 2000).
Moreover, the liberties taken with the facts of her life seem just as exploitative as all those taken by the Bad Men who, we are repeatedly given to understand, lined up to abuse her one after the other, which opens the film to the accusation of hypocrisy. Perhaps the filmmakers would say that the movie is not about “Marilyn” “herself” at all, but about her symbolic or cultural “meaning”, but, in that case, why bother to go to all the trouble of making this film, when Mulholland Drive (2001) already exists? (Dominik has in the past stated that Mulholland Drive is a film he loves, and, as if in acknowledgment of his debt to Lynch, some of the music in Blonde, accompanying the final scenes before the death of the protagonist, have a distinctly Twin Peaksy feel about them, but without the upward tendency at the end of the phrase that Badalamenti and Lynch habitually use to indicate some kind of ascent towards a transcendent plane.)
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