FashionWhat to Expect From Netflix’s ‘Blonde’

What to Expect From Netflix’s ‘Blonde’

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It may well include flashbacks to Monroe’s famously difficult childhood

The novel Blonde begins as its protagonist is being shunted between foster homes and longing for her absent “Daddy,” and finishes with her rumored assassination post-affair with JFK. Naturally, Monroe’s career as a Hollywood starlet is central to the plot, but her formative experiences are also covered in detail; Oates first started writing about Monroe’s life after identifying with a photograph of a 15-year-old Norma Jean Baker winning a beauty contest in California in 1941.

Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. Courtesy of Netflix

If Blonde takes its cues from Oates’s novel, it will be a little different from your average biopic

Oates has always stressed that Blonde is a fictionalized narrative inspired by Monroe’s life, using her story to probe the often toxic nature of American celebrity rather than providing a definitive account of Norma Jean’s 36 years. (Tellingly, Oates refers to Norma Jean as Norma Jeane throughout the novel, a quirk Dominik carried over to his script.) Her 700-page volume includes characters that are wholly invented, while others are decidedly real, like Whitey, the make-up artist behind Monroe’s ivory skin and what Oates terms her “platinum cotton-candy head,” and Hollywood titan Billy Wilder, who directed Monroe in her two best-known films, The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959).

Brad Pitt, who has a long-standing relationship with director Andrew Dominik, is one of Blonde’s producers

Given that every detail of Monroe’s life has been dissected since her 1962 death, Andrew Dominick—a director known for his arthouse productions—will likely present an avant-garde take on her story. The Australian auteur is best known for two collaborations with Brad Pitt: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), which saw Pitt play the Jesse James to Casey Affleck’s Robert Ford, and Killing Them Softly (2012), in which Pitt and James Gandolfini appear as a couple of mob-backed hitmen on a revenge quest in Boston. Both flopped spectacularly at the box office, but have since become cult hits, so the fact that Pitt has signed on to produce Blonde through his entertainment company, Plan B, is a real sign of his faith in Dominik’s talents.

Even if Blonde itself fails to win critical approval, it’s likely that Ana de Armas’s performance will win her some awards

The Cuban actor spent nine months training with a dialogue coach to perfect Monroe’s uniquely breathy voice, in addition to doing ADR sessions in which she re-recorded audio after seeing her footage. Jennifer Johnson, who dressed Margot Robbie for her transformation in I, Tonya, is responsible for the costumes, while an army of make-up artists helped de Armas morph into The Seven Year Itch icon. Images of de Armas from the set prove her three-and-a-half hours in the make-up chair every day were well-spent, with Oates praising her on Twitter in September, “An exquisite portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Ana de Armas and director Andrew Dominik; one without the others could perhaps not have worked this magic.”

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