Venice Diary #9 – “Blonde” – Blog

by Elisa Giudici

Today was Blond day, at least until one of the most iconic royal figures of the last century has died, diverting attention and coverage from the films of Venice and all the other events. Given the biopic’s reviews (and views pic The crown will get), Netflix should probably be relieved. So for today’s newspaper, a controversial look at the life and death of Marilyn Monroe and two films that recall the health of French cinema.

BLONDE by Andrew Dominik
Overly long, indulgent and hyper-focused on the most tragic aspects of Marilyn Monroe’s life, Blond like a biopic it’s a thank you but no thank you…

Dominique has an ambitious and showy directing style that doesn’t always pay off, skipping proportions and going from black and white to washed out color without discernible patterns.

Blond then feels like a feverish nightmare. It reconstructs small fragments of the life of Norma Jeane, a young beauty whose life is constantly filled with trauma. In the background and on the big screen there is MARILYN, the mask, the alter ego, the double identity that protects Norma. But the defense mechanisms only work for so long. Marilyn, the insipid blonde, becomes a role that Norma Jeane hates. Marked since childhood by the absence of her father and the abusive and violent behavior of her mother, Norma’s first step in Hollywood ends in a rape in the offices of a major studio. From there, we witness multiple abortions (and a creepy talking fetus that I found extremely unpleasant) and all manner of pain, abusive behavior, and psychological manipulation.

Blond wants us to see the women behind the icon, but Dominik seems to believe that only pain gives Norma credibility. She is a constant victim of both the men she loves and her fame. Blond sometimes deigns to note the literacy and intelligence of the protagonist, but his heart is elsewhere and we mostly get depressive episodes. There are inspired scenes and images, like a trio in which naked bodies merge. But many of the images are disturbing, like a super close-up of Marylin’s face and eyes as she holds President Kennedy’s genitals in her mouth and pleads.

For her part, Ana De Armas pours her soul into the giant role. She is convincing, avoiding the trap of pure mimesis. In the end it reminded me Elvis, another biography this year in which a legendary star is portrayed as someone with very little agency. This movie, however, had its audience in mind. Whose is this?

ATHENA by Romain Gavras
Athena, which I saw earlier in the festival, makes the perfect double feature with the next film so let’s pretend I saw it today. At the Lido, there is indeed a lot of love for Athena and this could appear in the final Prize list. I do not agree. Although it has a spectacular view, I roll my eyes every time I read how “political” it is.

In Athena, a video has gone viral in which French police officers are shown beating a migrant child to death. The victim lived in the fictional neighborhood of Athena and had three brothers. . A group of young men barricade the entrance and plan to get revenge on the police for what they have done. The brothers themselves take opposing paths following the neighborhood battle.

If Ladj Lj is Wretched popped up in your mind, you’re not far off. In fact, he co-wrote Gavras’ film. Both are part of a small group of creatives with similar style and themes. Romain Gavras knows what he’s doing behind the camera from a magnificent eight-minute continuous shot that opens the film (perhaps the best we’ve seen in this edition of the Mostra). It’s an excellent action film, shot in a dynamic and precise style. Additionally, Gavras is skilled enough to move dozens of characters in different layers inside the frame in an intricate and realistic way, while maintaining a high level of readability of the action.

However, the scenario is much too sneaky, especially in the final bend. Explaining would be too embarrassing to spoilers, but I was surprised. The script spends so much energy and time creating an alternate storyline when the most consistent and plausible reality was there. The result is that while Athena begins as a Netflix-produced blockbuster rooted in the complex social reality of the suburbs, it undermines itself. It effectively legitimizes the status quo so as not to upset the audience or avoid direct answers to politically charged questions. Ly and Gavras have already proven they can do better than that.

OUR LINKS (Mine) by Roschdy Zem
Once again, three brothers are fighting. This time for less heartbreaking reasons in this surprising comedy from director/star Roschy Zem (also the male lead of Other people’s children). Mine is a perfect example of the vitality of French cinema by the number of interesting commercial titles it produces. It’s funny but it goes deeper than that since it’s loaded with a healthy dose of family drama.

Mine reverses the stereotypical white and postcolonial vision of non-white families in France. This is not a film about migrants. However, his choice to put a bourgeois family with strong Maghreb ties center stage leaves a lasting impression. Roschdy Zem plays a workaholic sports TV presenter. His brother works even harder as an accountant. One evening, after going out for his secretary’s birthday, his brother Moussa (an incredible Sami Bouajila) falls and hits his head. After a chronic post-accident sleep phase, he returns as a brutally honest version of his previously softer self.

It’s not that the “new” brother is mean. He’s just honest to the extreme. This change leads to the film’s most powerful scene, as he divorces his second wife via webcam. Later, he will tell his sons: “My first divorce was hell. I prefer it to this virtual hell made of confirmation codes and video calls”.

Mine has non-stereotypical writing and explores its interesting premise via the interpersonal dynamics between brothers, parents, and the younger generation. It proves that you don’t need a big budget to make a successful movie, just a talented crew and a few good actors; Both Sami Bouajila and Roschdy Zem participated in the Volpi Cup Best Actor race.

more tomorrow… (the festival ends on Sunday)

Also…

#1 – Tar, white noise…
#2 – Bardo False Chronicle of…
#3 – Bones and All, Monica, All Beauty and Bloodshed
#4 – The Whale, Argentina 1985, Master Gardener
#5 – L’Immensità, other people’s children, love life
#6 – Banshees of Inisherin, Don’t Worry Darling Eternal Daughter
#7 – Saint Omer, lord of the ants

#8 – The Son, Beyond the Wall, Dreamin’ Wild


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