Monday, January 30

The nomination of Ana de Armas or how to save Marilyn from the clutches of ‘Blonde’ and her abusers


Updated

The Oscar nomination of the Spanish-Cuban actress is as contradictory as it is meritorious in view of the derision with which American critics have used against the film.

Ana de Armas at the presentation of ‘Blonde’.Jordan Strauss / AFP
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As strange as it may be, the first person who predicted the nomination of Ana de Armas was neither more nor less than her reviled director. “Most of the things that are written about her [Marilyn] they tell us: ‘I knew her, I really understood her, not you’. That’s what Norman Mailer’s and Gloria Steinem’s books do. ‘Blonde‘, my film, is not different, but with a variant. It appeals directly to the dark side of that desire for salvation that is a fantasy of punishment: if you want to rescue someone, that someone probably needs you to rescue them from you too. That’s why I say that ‘Blonde‘ is necessarily frustrating.” Pause to reflect. And he continues: “A lot of the negative critics are following that same instinct, they want to protect Marilyn. They want to protect her from me from her, and even those who love Ana want to save her from this horrible movie! It is a very masculine reasoning to save the defenseless lady from her horrible narrator, who is also a man”. And the last one as a moral worthy of Nostradamus: “So I feel that what happens is in part the perfect measure of the success of the film.”

I read (and reread) hours after by surprise and against all the most obvious pools it became known that the Spanish-Cuban actress was part of the quintet of best actresses of the year, the declaration of Andrew Dominic it sounds, suddenly, differently. At least, premonitory. And even slightly revealing. The enigma that arises from this very moment is the following: on the one hand, there is unanimity that ‘Blonde‘ is entirely the work of Ana de Armas, who only thanks to her and because of her, the film makes sense, and, on the other, the virtual consensus reached by a large part of the community of American critics to the point of make the tape the star of the anti-Oscars (the ones known as Razzie that reward the worst of the year) is that nothing in the almost three hours of ‘Blonde‘ is literally worth shit. The question now is how to marry the two statements, how to incinerate a film that rests solely on the performance of its protagonist and save the protagonist at the same time. Well, that’s what the Oscars do.

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Review, even summarily, the campaign against which he has fought’Blonde‘ and its leading man up to the nomination is a lot like walking through a minefield. The most notorious of the explosions was heard in the ‘New York Times’. His critic Manohla Dargis saw ‘Blonde‘ and, like her peer reviewer of the book on which it is based, published in 2000, literally blew up. For the author of the most furious text against the film, ‘Blonde‘ basically forgets the proven talent of the most celebrated of blonde actresses to make her nothing more than a victim. “Dominik”, she reads herself in what is the final sentence, “He’s so far into Marilyn Monroe’s vagina that he can’t see the rest of her”. And all this to conclude: “Given all the humiliations and horrors that Marilyn Monroe endured from her during her 36 years, it is a relief that she did not have to suffer the vulgarities of ‘Blonde‘, the latest necrophilic entertainment to exploit it”.

In fact, such a critique that over time has become the gold standard by which to measure the tape, few saw it coming. Joyce Carol Oates, the author of the novel and declared feminist, has tired of defending the film on Twitter, sea and air. She confessed to this same newspaper that she was convinced that If that same tape had been signed by a woman, the story would be completely different. Up to this point, the director himself did not miss an opportunity to insist that a film like this with a gestation process of almost 13 years has only been possible thanks to the irruption of the Metoo movement. And not content with this, as if what is seen on the screen were not enough, he has repeated over and over again that his intention was always to show how the myth (mask) of Marilyn ruined Norma Jeane (the face) from the macabre consciousness of a society (ours) delivered to the consumption of its desires transformed into simple merchandise. And so.

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Ana de Armas, for her part, has tried from the first second to stay out of the controversy. She was accused of trying to bring to life the most American of all myths and doing it with the most Hispanic of English and Spanish accents. she just kept quiet. In any case, it is not difficult to imagine his gesture of desolation when, in the face of the lynching and the subsequent financial failure that the film meant for Netflix, his name disappeared from the promotional campaigns for the Oscar. Everything indicated -or so it seemed clear after the premiere of ‘Blonde‘ in Venice – that he had succeeded. The actress who, after her dazzling appearance in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ characterized as a futuristic icon, surprised by its perverse naturalness in ‘Stabs in the back’ to immediately demonstrate his agile comic vision in ‘No time to die’It gave the impression that Dominik had reached the perfect measure of his talent by dint of bleeding into the skin of a myth, the greatest of them, which, in effect, bleeds. The director himself never tired of reiterating that the film was Ana and that without her nothing would have made sense.

Everything indicated that his career to the top would be in a straight line. Until the storm breaks, which was not when it was first seen on the Italian Lido but upon arrival in the United States. And so on until the Oscars today who come to his rescue. Actually, it’s a staged ransom since there’s no chance of winning against Cate Blanchett’s evidence. But rescue at last. Which, according to the director, is what the male dream has always tried to do: rescue Marilyn from those who used her and, by extension, now rescue Ana de Armas from the perfidious director who has committed the audacity of turning her into a star. The pattern repeats itself. As contradictory (and slightly hypocritical) as it sounds.

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