Back in March, the news surfaced that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had saddled the upcoming Marilyn Monroe movie Blonde — starring Ana de Armas as Monroe — with a rare NC-17 rating. There was a time when such a rating was a death knell for ticket sales, but in the age of streaming it isn’t quite as much of an albatross around the neck. Now director Andrew Dominik is responding to the rating and, surprisingly… says he was surprised.
When Vulture recently asked Dominik about the Ana de Armas starrer getting the NC-17 rating, the director said, “I was surprised. Yeah. I thought we’d colored inside the lines.” Dominik went on to speculate that the NC-17 rating has less to do with his movie and more to do with American attitudes toward sex. “Americans are really strange when it comes to sexual behavior, don’t you think?” Dominik mused. “I don’t know why. They make more porn than anyone else in the world.”
It’s surprising to hear Dominik express shock at the rating, considering even before the official word was released, the director was proudly predicting it. When he spoke to Screen Daily in February — a month before the NC-17 rating was made official — he specifically referred to the Ana de Armas led film as “an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe.” He even defended the rating, saying, “It’s kind of what you want, right? I want to go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story. It’s a demanding movie. If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f—–g audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office.”
Dominik also seems to think just about everyone who sees Ana de Armas in Blonde will have something to be angry about. “It’s an interesting time for Blonde to come out,” Domink said. “If it had come out a few years ago, it would have come out right when Me Too hit and it would have been an expression of all that stuff. We’re in a time now, I think, where people are really uncertain about where any lines are. It’s a film that definitely has a morality about it. But it swims in very ambiguous waters because I don’t think it will be as cut-and-dried as people want to see it. There’s something in it to offend everyone.” You can see a tweet with shots of De Armas as Monroe and director Andrew Dominik below:
While many have been describing the upcoming Netflix original as a “biopic,” the word doesn’t really apply. In Blonde, Ana de Armas won’t be playing a version of Marilyn Monroe as recorded by biographers or friends. The film is based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates, which is not meant to be taken as a biography. Instead it inserts Monroe into a conspiracy theory in which Robert F. Kennedy is partly responsible for her death. Characters in the novel based on real people like Tony Curtis and Arthur Miller are referred to by codenames. For example, Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller is referred to as “The Playwright.”
Beyond that it will be released in 2022, we don’t yet know exactly when Blonde will be streaming on Netflix. Variety predicts it will make its appearance on the “fall festival circuit.” Whenever it does stream, it will star Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Julianne Nicholson, Caspar Phillipson, Toby Huss, and Sara Paxton. The film is written and directed by Andrew Dominik.