Blonde: All Marilyn Monroe movies are exploitative. But the new Netflix movie actually shows you inside her vagina

blonde, the new Netflix film from Andrew Dominique, adds as much nuance to the idea of ​​Marilyn Monroe as can be gleaned from a gynecological examination. The bombshell movie star has long established herself as a tragic figure, a woman who was mistreated by Hollywood studios, her husband Joe DiMaggio and, as a child, her unwell mother. Instead of challenging the conventional narrative, director Dominique’s nightmarish film, adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ fictional 2000 novel, takes it somewhere even darker and even more invasive. If you want to understand Marilyn Monroe, he suggests, you must first enter her womb.

This dark drama takes us into the previously unexplored depths of Marilyn Monroe’s vagina several times during its astonishing running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes. I won’t “spoil” them, but in the first hour of the film, we see Monroe, played with excruciating weakness by Ana de Armas, excitedly clutching her stomach as the camera pans into her glowing womb—complete with a spectrally backlit fetus. A few scenes later, we follow Marilyn on the operating table, where the doctors are performing an abortion to which she does not agree. “Won’t you please listen? I’ve changed my mind,” she pleads as her doctor inserts the speculum, a procedure horribly depicted head-on, from the point of view of Marilyn’s own cervix.

Dominique is adamant about the cartoon principle of his film, which itself feels derivative of Rita Hayworth’s famous line in her most iconic and endearing film role: “Men go to bed with Gilda and wake up with me.” in Russian, sycophants and bigwigs hoping for a piece of Hollywood stardom instead find a more timid, desperate woman named Norma Jean, who happens to look identical to Marilyn Monroe. This may be interesting as a passing observation, but the film makes this point over and over again. “She’s pretty, but she’s not me,” says Norma Jean, looking at her glamorous magazine picture. “Damn it Marilyn,” Norma Jean later screams into the phone. “She is not here.”

If Dominique’s point is that Marilyn is an invention – “a baby’s first toy”, one of her lovers cryptically notes – then perhaps these scenes of excruciating body horror are the director’s sadistic means of reminding us that she is more than her two-dimensional projection. If you subjected Marilyn Monroe to the coercion of an unwanted abortion, wouldn’t she scream in silent agony? And if Norma Jean becomes pregnant again years later, doesn’t her unborn fetus acquire the capacity for human speech?

I promise you, you read that right. In one of the film’s most disturbing body sequences, Marilyn’s surprisingly chatty fetus—which somehow also possesses knowledge of her previous abortion—begs its host to let this pregnancy continue. It’s not just “alive” in the eyes of Russian, there is a will. Marilyn hears him. She answers him in a voice as if they are having a conversation. I had to watch this scene a few times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but no – right in the middle Russianthere is abnormal Look who’s talking background story.

Politically, these scenes of a woman burdened with years of regret about an abortion are highly controversial. As a way of telling stories, they are completely alienating. Marilyn Monroe never looks less real to me than when she cheerfully dialogues with the unborn child in her fantastically radiant womb. Am I to believe that all movie stars are lit from within?

Also, Marilyn never feels more like a Hollywood plaything than when Dominique subjects her to bloody sexual and medical abuse, probing her literally and barbarically portraying what it’s like to be one of the most famous women of the 20th century from the inside out. Russian it’s not a movie regarding The exploitation of Marilyn Monroe, but a new low water mark in Hollywood’s treatment of her – a sexual object reduced to a genital organ.