The Real Blonde

The Real Blonde is a 1997[1][2] film directed and written by Tom DiCillo. It stars Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener, and Maxwell Caulfield. The film is a satire on New York's fashion and entertainment industries.

The Real Blonde
The Real Blonde.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byTom DiCillo
Written byTom DiCillo
Produced byTerry McKay
Tom Rosenberg
Sigurjon Sighvatsson
Ted Tannebaum
Marcus Viscidi
Meredith Zamsky
Richard S. Wright
CinematographyFrank Prinzi
Edited byKeiko Deguchi
Camilla Toniolo
Music byJim Farmer
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
September 14, 1997 (France)
February 27, 1998 (United States)
Running time
105 min.
Box office$83,048


Joe is an aspiring actor working as a bus boy in a high-class restaurant. His longtime girlfriend Mary works as a cosmetician for the fashion industry and largely supports him with her steady income. Joe is more concerned with expressing himself than getting a paying job, and has been unwilling to accept roles that do not live up to his artistic standard. Mary supports Joe, but urges him to accept any role to get his foot in the door. Meanwhile, his co-worker Bob lands a lucrative role on a soap opera. Bob is a classically trained actor, but is willing to overlook the quality of the material for the money. He also has a fetish for natural blonde women, leading him to date Sahara, a naive model, and then dump her after discovering that her hair is dyed.

Joe swallows his artistic pride and meets with an agent, Dee Dee Taylor, who arranges for him to be an extra in a Madonna video. Mary is harassed as she walks to work each day and begins taking a self-defense and anger management class on the advice of her therapist. The instructor encourages her to express her anger, and she finds the class extremely empowering. Bob is successful in his soap opera role and begins a relationship with his beautiful co-star Kelly, a "real blonde".

At the Madonna video, the director treats Joe and the other extras like cattle. Joe meets Madonna's body double, Tina, a friendly aspiring actress, and gets himself fired for protesting an anti-Semitic statement made by the assistant director. Joe's firing sparks an argument between Joe and Mary. The pressure of Joe's career is straining their relationship, and they have not had sex in a long time. Mary's instructor, Doug, gives her a ride home from her class and makes a pass at her. She rebuffs him, but lies to cover up the incident to Joe. Meanwhile, Bob suffers from erectile dysfunction and is unable to have sex with Kelly. She mocks his inadequacy and leaves him.

Dee Dee takes pity on Joe and allows him to audition for the role of a "sexy serial killer". He reads his lines with Tina and begins to improvise his dialogue. He impresses the producers and lands the role. Tina invites him out for a drink and he resists her advances with some difficulty. Mary meets with her therapist and tells him about her experience with her self-defense instructor. He tells her that she must become comfortable with men showing their attraction to her and begins sharing his own sexual fantasies about her. She storms out of the session. Meanwhile, Bob is negotiating a longtime contract on the soap opera, but Kelly continues to taunt him on set. Bob threatens to quit the show and then forces the producer to kill off Kelly's character.

Bob goes back to dating Sahara, with whom he is miserable. Joe breaks the big news about his role to Mary and they rejoice. Mary asks him if she is wrong for feeling angry when men hit on her. Joe supports her and threatens to beat up her therapist if he ever sees him again. They have sex for the first time in months and drift off to sleep, happy and satisfied. Mary wraps her hand around Joe's finger, revealing that his improvised monologue had been about his feelings for her.



The movie received mixed reviews from critics and currently holds a 34% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 5.4.[3]

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, and wrote:

[Director/writer DiCillo] devises brief, sharply observed scenes. He notices, for example, the way a makeup artist makes up not only a model's face but also her attitude. The way the karate instructor, playing an aggressor, takes a sly pleasure in using sexist insults. The way people talk knowledgeably about movies they haven't seen. The way a guy who's embarrassed to be in a porno store will brazen it out. All of the actors are right for their roles because a degree of typecasting has been done, but Daryl Hannah brings a particularly focused energy to the role of a soap opera actress who is not impressed that a guy is impressed by her. And Catherine Keener brings a wry wit to her character; she sees models on Times Square billboards and knows what it took to get them there.

The characters are articulate enough to talk about what really moves them; they don't play sitcom games. DiCillo never puts two and two together, but somehow it all adds up.[4]


  1. ^ Cheshire, Ellen (2018). In the Scene : Jane Campion. Aurora Metro Books. ISBN 9780993220739.
  2. ^ "Weepy Indie Director Tom DiCillo Brings His Big Gamble to Sundance". 29 January 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  3. ^ "The Real Blonde:: Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  4. ^ Roger Ebert (February 27, 1998). "The Real Blonde". Chicago Sun-Times.

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