Never have I wondered what it’s like to see the world from the perspective of a vagina. But Andrew Dominik, the director of Netflix’s gnarly, brutal, heartbreaking blond, apparently has. I suppose that’s why one of the most unforgettable scenes in the (highly fictional) Marilyn Monroe biopic is a pair of pliers penetrating the actress’s vagina, shot from the vagina’s point of view.
Late in the film, a doctor administers Marilyn’s second abortion. High on the barbiturates that would eventually kill her, Marilyn accepts and rejects what happens to her in the operating room: She’s not in a position mentally or otherwise to have this baby as bad as she’d like.
Lest we want to defend the tortured actress for invoking her right to choose, blond forces us to watch a hard metal device work its way in and toward a fetus and terminate it. The film clearly – and obviously controversially – wants us to believe that the fetus is still very much alive. Not only that, but we have to believe it’s the same potential baby that Marilyn has already lost twice before at this point.
blond is nothing but chock-full of moments like these, equally poignant and gratuitous. As absurd as these kinds of directorial decisions are, they’re also incredibly unsettling to watch — not to mention insensibly insubstantial.
blond announces that Marilyn is pregnant for the first time with a hilariously heavy-handed set of visuals. (Unfortunately, these over-the-top sequences are rarely amusing.) Tiny animated sperms race across the screen, swimming to the beckoning egg, begging to be inseminated. The result: a computer-generated fetus. Rather than give her a swollen belly, the film portrays the pregnant Marilyn by cutting multiple times in shots of the humanoid clump of cells growing inside her.
The fetus is the product of a cheap CGI, which becomes more unpleasant the more we see it. While Marilyn cooed about her love for the baby to her lovers – Charlie Chaplin, Jr. and Edward G. Robinson, Jr., her homoerotic sex friends/boss – we’re being asked to believe it’s this PS2 era floating villain, hopping around in space, that she’s talking about.
Better (???) still, the fetus quickly takes a will of its own. During a meeting with studio heads about her meager salary, Marilyn nearly throws in the towel when she hears her salary is locked in. Then the fetus kicks, as if to say, “Fight back, Mama!” It’s the confidence boost she needs to pick herself up again and get that bigger payday. We call this a good result, accelerated by a very weird moment.
But Marilyn soon has the baby aborted to continue her career, a decision she will keep to herself for the rest of her life. (“Bye Bye Baby” plays immediately after her abortion, to remind us how sad she is about ending her pregnancy. Thank you, blond; it wasn’t clear by her wails and tears!) Even when she becomes pregnant again, with husband Arthur Miller’s child, Marilyn continues to regret ending the first pregnancy. We don’t just know this because the movie tells us, but the fetus itself says it too.
No joke: It turns out it’s a talking fetus we’re dealing with here. Marilyn, who now plays the role of a loving wife and mother-to-be, is cutting roses in her garden. The baby kicks her hard. She rubs her belly, offering soft memories of love, only for the scene to see the CGI fetus again. Why did you kill me last time? it wants to know; the voice is much like Marilyn’s as a child, as if it were her own self that she aborted. Marilyn states that the previous pregnancy was another child. no, that was mesays the fetus, fighting back. I’m the same baby.
uh. Yaks? Rosemary’s baby apparently has none of Marilyn’s. This is a poorly animated fetus with a grudge. While it speaks, we do not see the mouth move or the eyes open; that is a blessed directing choice. But there’s something equally off-putting to the low-poly fetus who talks through voiceover, which Marilyn hears and responds to while looking down at her belly.
“Rosemary’s baby apparently has none of Marilyn’s.”
Needless to say, this fetus isn’t lingering either. Marilyn miscarries, falls on the beach and gets up to find that her white floral dress is a deep red. The film cuts back to the dark space in which we had just seen the fetus floating. It also quickly gets covered in red.
Losing her baby—both this way and through her abortions—only adds to Marilyn’s unyielding pain. She further lapses into paranoia, depression, and self-abusive behavior. blonda movie already heading for Marilyn’s untimely end doesn’t shy away from how her unrealized desire for motherhood directly affected her final days.
But I can’t lie and say I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief here, knowing I wouldn’t see that menacing talking fetus again.
Years later, when the doctor pushed those tweezers into Marilyn to end that last pregnancy, I got an extra stab of fear in addition to my discomfort. Would blond bring the CGI fetus back for one last bow, to show his reaction to what happened? The answer is no. Instead, we need to think about the film’s quirky relationship with this woman’s body —blondMarilyn’s is a battered sex object, a walking wound – when we stare out of her vagina.