Bwave, the new Netflix movie from Andrew Dominik, adds as much nuance to the idea of Marilyn Monroe as one can get from a gynecological exam. The bombshell movie star has long been seen as a tragic figure, a woman who was abused by Hollywood studios, her husband Joe DiMaggio and, as a child, her ailing mother. Rather than defy conventional narrative, director Dominik’s nightmarish film, adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 fictionalized novel, takes him somewhere even darker and more invasive. If you want to understand Marilyn Monroe, he suggests, you must first enter her womb.
This sinister drama takes us to the previously unexplored depths of Marilyn Monroe’s vagina multiple times throughout its astonishing 2 hour 45 minute runtime. I won’t “spoil” them all, but in the first hour of the film, we watch Monroe, played with distressing fragility by Ana de Armas, enthusiastically clutch her belly as the camera cuts to her glowing womb – complete with fetus. spectrally backlit. A few scenes later, we follow Marilyn on the operating table, where doctors perform an abortion to which she did not consent. “Please, won’t you listen?” I changed my mind,” she begs, as her doctor inserts the speculum – a procedure horribly described head-on, from the perspective of Marilyn’s own cervix.
Dominik insists on the animation premise of his film, which itself seems derived from this famous line by Rita Hayworth about her most iconic and alluring film role: “Men go to bed with Gilda and wake up with me.” In Blond, sycophants and big shots hoping to get a piece of the Hollywood starlet instead find a more timid and desperate woman called Norma Jeane, who just happens to be identical to Marilyn Monroe. It might be interesting as a passing observation, but the film keeps coming back to this point. “She’s pretty, but that’s not me,” Norma Jeane says as she gazes at a glamorous photo of herself in a magazine. “F*** Marilyn,” Norma Jeane later shouts into the phone. “She is not there.”
If Dominik’s view is that Marilyn is an invention – “baby’s first toy”, one of her lovers cryptically notes – then perhaps these scenes of excruciating body horror are the director’s sadistic way of remind us that it is more than its two-dimensional projection. If you coerce Marilyn Monroe into an unwanted abortion, doesn’t she scream in silent agony? And if Norma Jeane gets 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 unsettling body sequences, Marilyn’s surprisingly talkative fetus – who somehow also possesses the knowledge of her previous abortion – begs her host to leave this pregnancy behind. continue. It is not only “alive” in the eyes of Blond, he has a will. Marilyn can hear it. She answers them aloud as if they were in conversation. I had to watch this scene several times to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but no – right in the middle of Blondthere is a disturbance Look who’s talking prequel.
Politically, these scenes of a woman burdened by years of abortion regret are highly controversial. As a mode of storytelling, they are totally alienating. Marilyn Monroe never looks less real for me than when she dialogues happily with the unborn child in her fantastically radiant womb. Am I to believe that all movie stars are enlightened from within?
Marilyn never feels more like a Hollywood toy than when Dominik subjects her to bloody sexual and medical abuse, literally probing her and barbarically describing what it’s like to be one of the most famous women of the 20th century. inside. Blond is not a movie on The exploitation of Marilyn Monroe, but a new low watermark in Hollywood’s treatment of her – a sex object reduced to a sex organ.