‘Blonde’ Director on Marilyn Monroe Film’s NC-17 Rating: ‘It’s Not Depictions of Happy Sexuality’

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Andrew Dominik says he was surprised by the NC-17 rating for his Marylin Monroe movie starring Ana de Armas, citing American sexual sensibilities, the #MeToo movement and men “worried about what the women think” as reasons “Blonde” couldn’t slip under the R-bar.

However, the more the Australian director talked with Vulture about the “Blonde” rating, the less surprised he seemed.

“I thought we’d colored inside the lines,” Dominik said at first. “But I think if you’ve got a bunch of men and women in a boardroom talking about sexual behavior, maybe the men are going to be worried about what the women think. It’s just a weird time. It’s not like depictions of happy sexuality. It’s depictions of situations that are ambiguous. And Americans are really strange when it comes to sexual behavior, don’t you think? I don’t know why. They make more porn than anyone else in the world.”

The Netflix biopic was officially rated NC-17 in March by the MPA for “some sexual content.” Dominik didn’t want to compromise some of the more intense elements that Netflix was not initially comfortable with, an individual with knowledge of the film told TheWrap at the time.

“It’s dangerous to do other people’s thinking for them,” he said. “Who knows? On the one hand, I think if I’m given the choice, I’d rather go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story. Because we know that her life was on the edge, clearly, from the way it ended.”

The filmmaker has a knack for creating polarizing films, having written and directed the acclaimed 2007 slow-burn “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” and the intense 2012 crime film “Killing Them Softly,” which landed a rare audience CinemaScore of F.

Dominik added that the film’s proximity to the #MeToo movement may also have had an effect on the MPA’s decision.

“It’s an interesting time for ‘Blonde’ to come out,” he said. “If it had come out a few years ago, it would have come out right when [#MeToo] hit and it would have been an expression of all that stuff. We’re in a time now, I think, where people are really uncertain about where any lines are. It’s a film that definitely has a morality about it. But it swims in very ambiguous waters because I don’t think it will be as cut-and-dried as people want to see it. There’s something in it to offend everyone.”