When a Marilyn fan thinks of the words: The Last Sessions we think of the photographs of Bert Stern. We do not think of this documentary for good reason – a documentary should not have a cast; it should have a narrator and interviews. As soon as there is a cast there is a leap from journalism to something else. There is something macabre about the documentary Marilyn: The Last Sessions. This documentary airs February 15th 2009 on CBC Newsworld at 10 P.M.
The inner thoughts of someone in therapy should always remain private and the fact that John Miner the former L.A. County prosecutor who claims to have transcribed her sessions with psychoanalyst Ralph Greenson as part of the investigation is questionable. Miner was supposed to never reveal the contents of the tapes but did so years after Greenson’s son had died. In addition to being macabre and of dubious ethical origins the producers saw fit to include a brief nude film of model Arline Hunter’s The Apple, Knockers and the Coke and suggest that perhaps it is Marilyn Monroe.
Some documentaries ask questions which can be answered. Other documentaries ask questions which cannot be answered. This one asks questions like “What if Norma Jean killed her (Marilyn Monroe)?” Not only are the questions the documentary impossible to answer they are frequently facile and pointless. Any Marilyn fan knows all the history covered off here with archival tape, reenactments, voice over readings of Miner’s notes as if they were Marilyn speaking from the tape.
This documentary is less a documentary than it is a drama based on the book Marilyn, dernières séance by Michel Schneider – don’t bother trying to buy it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon it isn’t even on their lists. The book was based by Miner’s unsubstantiated notes that he took while listening to tapes which he claimed were destroyed.
Watching Marilyn: The Last Sessions is a little like watching a train wreck. Marilyn’s life was a well documented train wreck. This documentary is so wretched that that the producers felt it necessary to explain every possible double entendre as if the viewer were a complete idiot. First year undergrads’ reading Freud could have done a better job of analyzing Marilyn than this documentary manages to do. There is little to recommend Marilyn: The Last Sessions to anyone. Marilyn fans will know the history and the uninitiated will only be treated to a movie based on a book based on a newspaper story based on notes taken by an officer of the court of tapes that do not exist. If that's your idea of a documentary then this might be a film for you.