While plenty of movies wind up with an R rating, vanishingly few receive an NC-17, which is a rating meant to suggest that no one under the age of 17 should be allowed to see the film. Plenty of movies are given an NC-17 rating initially, but many of those movies wind up re-editing their content so that they can receive an R rating instead. In the case of Netflix's Blonde, though, the NC-17 rating is going to hold.
Why is Netflix's 'Blonde' rated NC-17?
Blonde, the new movie from director Andrew Dominik starring Ana de Armas, is adapted from a novel of the same name by Joyce Carol Oates. Both the novel and this film are fictionalized accounts of the life of Marilyn Monroe, and a recent trailer gave viewers their first glimpse of de Armas in the role. Blonde's subject matter doesn't necessarily explain its rating, but the movie has been a controversial one for years now.
Prior to the pandemic, Blonde was set for a much earlier release in 2019, but Netflix ultimately called in an editor to curb some of the film's "excesses," and shifted the film's release date back as a result. Even so, it seems the movie's graphic content was still enough to earn it the harshest MPAA rating, and Dominik, who has previously directed Killing Them Softly and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, doesn't seem all that concerned.
“It’s controversial, there’s a bit for [Netflix] to swallow. It’s a demanding movie. If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the f--king audience’s problem. It’s not running for public office," Dominik said in an interview about the film.
The exact reasons for the rating remain unnamed, but there is a scene in the novel where Monroe is raped that is likely one factor.
While Dominik has said that the MPAA is "being political" in its rating for the movie, he also acknowledged that a racier version of Monroe's story might be more appealing, at least to some.
"It’s an NC-17 movie about Marilyn Monroe, it’s kind of what you want, right? I want to go and see the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story," he said.
Star Ana De Armas has also opened up about the movie's rating. "I didn’t understand why that happened,” she told French fashion magazine L'Officiel. “I can tell you a number of shows or movies that are way more explicit with a lot more sexual content than Blonde. But to tell this story it is important to show all these moments in Marilyn’s life that made her end up the way that she did. It needed to be explained."
The first trailer offers a peek at what 'Blonde' will be.
Although the film's first trailer doesn't give away much, it does offer audiences a sense of what de Armas's portrayal of Monroe will be like. In spite of the fact that de Armas is originally from Cuba, it's hard to deny that she bears a striking resemblance to Monroe, and seems to have the actress's voice and demeanor down as well.
Whether Blonde the movie is ultimately as interesting as the controversies around it are remains to be seen. The first trailer certainly has people buzzing about the title, which will be Netflix's first movie to earn an NC-17 rating. There may be some Oscar buzz around it as well, but it remains to be seen whether voters can handle the severity of what the movie has in store.