The first trailer has launched for Blonde, Netflix’s controversial biopic of Marilyn Monroe.
Directed by Andrew Dominik, best known for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the film stars Ana de Armas as the tragic star and is based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.
“There’s something in it to offend everyone,” Dominik has said about the movie which has achieved a rare NC-17 rating, afforded to films with highly graphic content, with previous examples including Showgirls and A Serbian Film. “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the fucking audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.”
New Zealand-born Dominik, whose films also include Chopper and the recent Nick Cave documentary This Much I Know to Be True, has expressed surprise over the rating. “It’s not like depictions of happy sexuality,” he said in May. “It’s depictions of situations that are ambiguous. And Americans are really strange when it comes to sexual behavior, don’t you think? I don’t know why. They make more porn than anyone else in the world.”
Dominik has called it the story of “how a childhood trauma shapes an adult who’s split between a public and a private self”.
When sharing her thoughts on a rough cut of the film, which is said to include a rape scene, Oates tweeted that it was “startling, brilliant, very disturbing and perhaps most surprisingly an utterly ‘feminist’ interpretation”.
Dominik has stressed that like Oates’s novel, the film is a work of fiction but “questions why she killed herself, so naturally it’s going to be disturbing” while also comparing it to Citizen Kane and Raging Bull.
The role was originally set to be played by Naomi Watts when the project started development in 2010 before Jessica Chastain took over and then de Armas was finally cast. De Armas, whose other films include Knives Out and No Time to Die, has called it “the most intense work” she has ever done. The Cuban actor has spoken about the difficulty of perfecting the accent with over nine months of dialect coaching. “I’m not going to let anybody or anything tell me I cannot dream of playing Marilyn Monroe,” she said.
The film also stars Adrien Brody as Arthur Miller, Bobby Cannavale as Joe DiMaggio and Julianne Nicholson as Gladys Pearl Baker.
Blonde is rumoured to be part of this August’s Venice film festival lineup, a tried-and-tested launchpad for many great Oscar hopes. It will be released on Netflix on 23 September.