By Irina Pino
HAVANA TIMES – Before and after its premiere, Blonde, a movie by Andrew Dominik, based on Joyce Carol Oates’ book, has stirred controversy on social media and in the real world. Marilyn Monroe’s fans are split some hate it; others are praising it.
Here in Havana, there are long lines outside movie theaters, which is unusual to see during this time of shortages, pandemic, and other demons. I guess it’s because they want to see Cuban actress Ana de Armas, who is the target of criticism recently.
People have gone so far as saying she deserves an Oscar, and that when they award it to her, she should give a speech advocating for political prisoners in Cuba.
I’m sure she won’t if she wins it, because she isn’t known to be a militant person, although she acted in the movie Wasp Network, directed by Olivier Assayas.
Getting back to the subject, it’s true that Norma Jean was raped and abused, like many women have been. You can’t erase that experience, sometimes we can put a lock in our memories, to be able to carry on normally, but you always have the memory with you.
I know exactly what that’s like because it also happened to me when I was younger. When I was working in TV, I suffered sexual harassment from a producer.
I’ve been a loyal fan of M.M. for decades, I keep her photos, movies, documentaries, articles, as well as her poems, which are very sad and reflect the disgust and anxiety she had for her alter-ego, the hate she had for her beauty.
The reality is that she had her insecurities, and her love relationships didn’t help her. Nevertheless, she was an intelligent person and she never depended on anyone, founding her own production company. She was an actress with instinct, who shone brightly, even if she didn’t value her own worth enough.
Blonde is the depiction of a weak woman, a victim of the Star System, who suffered manipulation, physical and moral abuse.
You can’t catch your breath for a second, it’s constant pain, grotesque scenes like the one when she goes to visit President John F. Kennedy and he forces her to give him a blow job while he’s watching TV and speaking on the phone. The door was kept open the entire time and his security guard was outside.
Miscarriages and abortions, misogyny, drugs, sadism, masochism, identity crisis… these are all of the elements that make up the story, which doesn’t turn into a happy memory, there’s nothing to hold onto.
The director and novelist contradict themselves, sometimes they say it’s fiction, other times they say it’s Marilyn Monroe’s life. But they both take passages from her life to turn it into a film that borders on the line between reality and nightmare, causing a visual chaos.
Ana de Armas has admitted she took on the role because she was bored and didn’t have any other project in sight. I personally believe she isn’t Norma Jean, because nobody could get into her mind. That’s why I feel like I’m watching a (very good) imitation of the character, but not of her as a human being.
It’s goes on far too long, there are repetitive and long scenes (a talking fetus); hysterical crying in the middle of filming, for no reason; nude scenes in bulk, but without the eroticism.
Despite the little cinematographic value it has in terms of photography, edition and assembly, music and performances, I feel it’s a useless and awful movie. They could have made a movie about any actress and not necessarily use the legend of Marilyn Monroe.
Read more from Irina Pino’s diary here.