The controversial new movie from director Andrew Dominik was adapted from Joyce Carol Oates’s fictional book about Monroe, which was released in 2001.
For some time now, the project, which stars Knives Out actor Ana de Armas, has been hyped up as being a shocking watch, with the film being handed an NC-17 age certificate in the US.
For those in the UK, this is similar to an 18 – but American directors tend to try and edit their films in order to avoid the certificate as, when cinema releases are concerned, it typically equates to less money at the box office.
Many may believe Blonde to be a standard biopic about Monroe, but the opposite is true: due to the source material, the film features several imagined scenes from the Hollywood star’s life, one of which is being accused of going too far.
It concerns John F Kennedy, the US president whom Monroe is believed to have had an affair with in the 1960s. Rumours of this affair remains unverified to this day – but Blonde goes one further.
In a scene near the end of the film, Monroe is shown to be drugged and taken to a character named “the president” who bears a striking resemblance to JFK (the actor, Caspar Phillipson, previously played him in Jackie).
Here, while he is on the phone refuting claims of sexual assault, he forces Monroe into performing a sex act on him, while a voiceover by de Armas shows Marilyn attempting to disassociate from the situation.
Some viewers who are not aware of the source material appear to believe this actually happened, despite there being no record of any such incident.
This is one of the reasons why the scene’s placement is being questioned, with many calling it “character assassination”. Others are calling it “exploitation” of Monroe’s story.
“I don’t know if this has been validated or not?” one viewer asked, adding: “It’s a big leap to lie about it though.”
“Why would the film #Blonde fabricate a graphic rape of #MarilynMonroe by #JFK? “ another viewer waded in, calling the scene “disgusting exploitation” of the Hollywood star’s life.
Others said the scene “should have been cut from the film”, and agreed that it is probably what led to the film’s dreaded age certificate.
“I’m wondering why it’s NC-17 then comes the JFK scene for the most degrading depiction of Marilyn Monroe,” a viewer commented.
In general, Netflix users have been complaining about Blonde, with many saying they were forced to switch the film off after just 20 minutes.
In a one-star review for The Independent, Jessie Thompson wrote: “Blonde is not a bad film because it is degrading, exploitative and misogynist, even though it is all of those things. It’s bad because it’s boring, pleased with itself and doesn’t have a clue what it’s trying to say.”