'Blonde': Why is Netflix's Marilyn Monroe film so controversial?

Ana De Armas stars as Marilyn Monroe in 'Blonde'. (Netflix)
Ana De Armas stars as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. (Netflix)

Ana De Armas has transformed into Marilyn Monroe for Blonde, a new Netflix film about the late Hollywood icon.

The Knives Out and No Time to Die star has received both praise and criticism for her portrayal of Monroe in the long-awaited movie.

As Blonde is released worldwide, here's everything you need to know.

Netflix's new film Blonde explained in nine points

What's Blonde about? Netflix's new film is based on a novel about Marilyn Monroe. The book, by Joyce Carol Oates, gives a heavily fictionalised account of Monroe's life.

Ana De Armas stars as Marilyn Monroe in 'Blonde'. (Netflix)
The controversial film is based on a novel about the legendary actress. (Netflix)

The film contrasts Monroe's bubbly on-screen personality with her troubled personal life. The actress and singer was one of the biggest stars of the 1950s, but experienced addiction and mental health issues behind closed doors.

Blonde. L to R: Adrien Brody as The Playwright & Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. (Netflix)
Adrien Brody plays Marilyn Monroe's husband, playwright Arthur Miller. (Netflix)

Ana De Armas was cast as Monroe in 2019. Naomi Watts and Jessica Chastain were both previously linked to the role.

The casting sparked backlash. When the trailer was released, some fans took issue with De Armas slipping into her natural Cuban accent, but Monroe's estate praised the "great casting choice". The actress spent nine months with a dialect coach in a bid to imitate Monroe's voice.

Blonde. L to R: Choreographer Denna Thomsen and Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. (Netflix)
Ana de Armas on set with Blonde choreographer Denna Thomsen. (Netflix)

De Armas believes Monroe's ghost haunted the film's set. She said: "She was with us. I think she was happy. She would also throw things off the wall sometimes and get mad if she didn't like something."

Critical reviews have been mixed. The Times called the film "stunning" while the Guardian said it was "moving, explicit and intensely irritating". However, De Armas' performance has been widely praised, making her an early favourite for an Oscar.

Blonde. L to R: Xavier Samuel as Cass Chaplin, Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe and Evan Williams as Eddy G. Robinson Jr.. (Netflix)
Xavier Samuel (left) and Evan Williams (right) co-star in the film. (Netflix)

The film's depiction of sexual assault has caused controversy. US website Vulture described one scene as "disturbing" and "exploitative", and the Daily Beast called it "horrifying".

De Armas said it's "disgusting" that her nude scenes from Blonde will go viral online. "It's upsetting just to think about it," she added. "I can't control it. You can't really control what they do and how they take things out of context."

Blonde. Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. (Netflix)
Ana de Armas' performance as Monroe has been widely praised. (Netflix)

Blonde is written and directed by Andrew Dominik. Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale co-star as Monroe's husbands, Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio. Caspar Phillipson plays US president John F Kennedy, who allegedly had an affair with Monroe.

Blonde is available to stream on Netflix now. Watch the trailer below: