A New Interview With ‘Blonde’ Director Andrew Dominik (And One Cringe-y Outtake) Has People Red-Faced Mad

For weeks, Don’t Worry Darling improbably held the trophy for most controversial movie of early awards season. But now that it’s out, it’s Blonde’s turn to shine. Ana de Armas is getting rave reviews for playing the lead in a heavily fictionalized take on screen icon Marilyn Monroe. (It’s based on a novel, by Joyce Carol Oates, not a biography.) The film itself, though, has proven extremely divisive, and not just because of its NC-17-rated button-pushing. And now its director has poured a tub of gasoline on what was a relatively tiny fire.

Film critic Christina Newland, who admitted she “detested” the film, did an interview for Sight and Sound with filmmaker Andrew Dominik, of the acclaimed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, as well as the very good Chopper (which introduced America to Eric Bana) and the very tough neo-noir Killing Them Softly. Throughout their chat, Newland is diplomatic but at times forceful, even occasionally handing Dominik rope with which to hang himself — which he repeatedly does.

On one hand, Dominik explains that he saw the novel — if not Monroe’s actual life — as being “about how childhood drama shapes an adult’s perception of the world.” He also says he did an “enormous amount of research” on her, and that he “read everything there is to read about Marilyn Monroe.”

At the same time, people felt Dominik seemed weirdly uninterested in Monroe, as either an actress or a person, beyond someone who could have been “saved” from her demons and from the abuse she’s shown facing. Many felt that ultimately resulted in a lack of empathy on his part.

At one point, Newland brings up how the movie ignores many of her accomplishments: starting her own production company, challenging HUAC, fighting for civil rights. But Dominik brushes that off, saying that’s “not really what the film is about” and that making a film about a powerful woman was “not so interesting to me.”

Some bristled at the idea that the film, taking from Oates’ novel, just makes some stuff up that some viewers not so familiar with Monroe’s life might take as real.

Others thought Dominik was only interested in her as someone who took her own life.

Newland also published an outtake, which was arguably the worst part. In it, he wonders if anyone still watches Monroe’s movie, and seems dismissive of one of her best films, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

To which some people said, yes, people still watch Marilyn Monroe movies — one reason the film got greenlit.

The exchange strongly signaled to some that Dominik does not like or even respect Monroe.

To some, it was reminiscent of when Aaron Sorkin, writer-director of the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz biopic Being the Ricardos, was dismissive of the pioneering sitcom I Love Lucy.

And then there’s the “well-dressed whores” line.

Others couldn’t believe anyone would diss Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a very fine movie you can rent on places like Vudu and Amazon. (The image at the top, incidentally, is a recreation of the 1953 Technicolor noir Niagara, which currently streams on the Criterion Channel, but only through the end of the week.)

To some, Dominik only succeeded in dissuading people from watching his movie, even for free with a Netflix subscription.

And others thought Blonde was giving Don’t Worry Darling a run for its scandal money.

Blonde hits Netflix on Wednesday, September 28. You can read the full interview with Dominik at Sight and Sound.

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