Andrew Dominik‘s Blonde (2022) is for people like me who don’t want to read the long Joyce Carol Oates novel on which the film is based. Well, yes, the film itself is long—long enough to get tedious—but it is also a remarkable dreadnought of visual poetry. Everything cinematographer Chayse Irvin touches here turns to gold. Blonde concentrates on Marilyn Monroe, except that primarily, as Emina Melonie correctly notes on the web, the movie is “about the notion of personae, both acting and sexual, and how this strange metaphysical make up has been embodied by Marilyn Monroe.”

Ana de Arnas ardently gives the role of MM everything it calls for. The shots of her nude breasts are usually magnificent. In one sapid scene, for example, her first husband (Bobby Cannavale) rails at Marilyn for posing for soft core porn as she sits on the floor of the couple’s bedroom naked (as though she has just finished the porn shots) and fearful, vulnerable. There is art in this scene.

True, elsewhere aestheticism exists. Even so, this very figurative work is largely a success. It presents an American woman, an American icon, with movie-star privilege, who is nevertheless, from start to finish in this film, an American sorrow.

(A Netflix production)