Prepare to be speechless.
Netflix released the official trailer for Blonde, directed by Andrew Dominik and starring Ana de Armas as the late screen legend Marilyn Monroe, on July 28. The mostly black and white preview offers a look at the story of Norma Jeane, who became an iconic Hollywood star through roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot but whose fame transcended her film career.
In the trailer, Ana's Marilyn speaks to The Athlete, a.k.a. Joe DiMaggio (Bobby Cannavale), her second husband, about what it's like to live under the the harsh spotlight. "I know you're supposed to get used to it," she says, her voice breathy. "But I just can't."
Scenes show the actress as she tries to walk through throngs of paparazzi and adoring fans, her blonde hair messy and clothes in disorder as people grab at her. The pressure seems to be too much to bear, and in one clip, she screams before scratching at her face. As she explains to Joe, she's tired of playing this persona, saying, "I can't face doing another scene with Marilyn Monroe."
"Marilyn doesn't exist," she continues. "When I come out of my dressing room, I'm Norma Jeane. I'm still her when the camera is rolling. Marilyn Monroe only exists on the screen."
The surprisingly dark trailer ends with Marilyn crashing her car, running in a hospital gown and being carried away by men in suits.
Based on Joyce Carol Oates' novel, the Netflix film mixes real and rumored events from Marilyn's life to examine the way she was mythologized following her death in 1962. "I have seen the rough cut of Andrew Dominick's adaptation & it is startling, brilliant, very disturbing & [perhaps most surprisingly] an utterly "feminist" interpretation," Joyce tweeted last year. "not sure that any male director has ever achieved anything this."
Blonde's journey to the big screen was a long one, with the film facing pushback after receiving an NC-17 rating, which shocked the director. "I was surprised," Andrew told Vulture. "I thought we'd colored inside the lines."
He noted that the sexuality and nudity in the film isn't at all what people expect, saying it serves a greater purpose than your typical nude scene. "It's not like depictions of happy sexuality," Andrew explained. "It's depictions of situations that are ambiguous."
The director added in a separate interview with Netflix's Queue that Blonde is a sympathetic approach to the misunderstood figure. "The film is sincere. It's made with love. It's made with good intentions. But it's full of rage at the same time," he said. "I seem to get myself in these situations where people regard me as provocative, but it's never what I'm trying to do. I'm just trying to say it as clearly as I can. My ambition is to make you fall in love with Marilyn."
Ana herself said that she couldn't be prouder of the end result, telling Queue that this is a sensitive and thoughtful portrayal, despite the NC-17 rating. It's the whole reason she agreed to star in this "daring" project. "We wanted to tell the human side of her story," Ana said. "Fame is what made Marilyn the most visible person in the world, but it also made Norma the most invisible."
Blonde premieres globally Sept. 23 on Netflix.