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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Jake Hackney

Blonde author breaks silence on Marilyn Monroe film criticism

The author of Blonde, the novel on which the controversial Netflix film is based, has broken her silence after its adaptation has been met with swathes of savage criticism.

Andrew Dominik’s hugely anticipated Marilyn Monroe biopic dropped on the streaming service last week and has been labelled “disgusting” and “exploitative” by some viewers. Others claimed they “couldn’t stomach” to watch more than 20 minutes of its near three-hour runtime.

Film critic Mark Kermode aptly described Blonde as a horror film, arguing it is “more Nightmare on Elm Street than My Night with Marilyn.” Now Joyce Carol Oates – whose fictionalised biographical novel was released in 2000 – has spoken out in its defence.

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Writing on Twitter, she said: “I think it is a brilliant work of cinematic art obviously not for everyone. Surprising that in a post#MeToo era the stark exposure of sexual predation in Hollywood has been interpreted as 'exploitation'.

“Surely Andrew Dominik meant to tell Norma Jeane's story sincerely.”

Joyce also praised the film’s cinematography and the performance by lead actress Ana de Armas – who has been tipped to receive an Oscar nod for her portrayal of the tragic Hollywood starlet. While admitting it it is “not for the faint of heart,” the American writer argued Blonde is akin to a Rorschach test, in which different people perceive different images appearing in ink blots.

Blonde author Joyce Carol Oates. (Getty Images)

She said: “Some see the exposure of sexual mistreatment of Marilyn Monroe as 'exploitation' and others see it as a revelation of how a gifted young woman was treated in Hollywood and elsewhere, pre #MeToo.”

Some disgruntled viewers suggested the film should come with a “trigger warning” for its scenes depicting sexual assault and rape, domestic abuse and abortion. In one particularly damning reaction, one Twitter user described the film as “exploitative, demeaning and misogynistic” and said they felt “ashamed for watching” it.

Cuban actress Ana, 34, known for starring in Knives Out and No Time to Die, also recently spoke out in defence of Blonde's challenging scenes. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she said: “It's harder for people to watch [those scenes] than for me to make them, because I understood what I was doing and I felt very protected and safe.

“I didn't feel exploited because I was in control. I made that decision. I knew what the movie I was doing.

“I trusted my director. I felt like I was in a safe environment.”

Blonde is available to stream on Netflix now.


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