Ranked sixth on the American Film Institute’s list of greatest female legends of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing the comical “blonde bombshell”, Monroe quickly became one of the most recognizable sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s. Long after her untimely death in 1962, Monroe continues to be an icon pop culture major with an ever-lasting legacy unparalleled in the history of the big screen. Netflix’s latest true crime documentary, “The Marilyn Monroe Mystery: The Unreleased Tapes,” attempts to uncover the secrets and answer the sought-after questions surrounding Monroe’s mysterious death (emphasis on “attempts”.)
From documentary filmmaker Emma Cooper (“Louis Theroux: America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis”), “The Marilyn Monroe Mystery: The Unreleased Tapes” explores the moderately compelling mystery surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s questionable death. Told through never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with friends and family of the iconic star, the film teases vague conspiracies and irrelevant commentary about the well-documented life of a larger-than-life individual.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of Marilyn Monroe (I only saw her in the 1959 Billy Wilder classic, “Some Like It Hot”), I greatly admire the artist for her contributions without precedent to the film industry and the key role she played in body positivity for women, especially in 1950s America. Life as we know it would be a lot different without Monroe and what she did for women and cinema. Monroe has been a top actress for over a decade with her films grossing over $200 million (equivalent to $2 billion in 2022 when adjusted for inflation). Monroe was a real movie star never seen since or before.
While her death is undeniably shrouded in mystery (which could be fascinating to explore), it’s the way director Emma Cooper chooses to present that mystery to audiences that completely derails the picture into a clichéd vanity fair, schlocky and forgettable. Oversexualizing the very real woman, diminishing respectability, and making no insightful assertions, I even have a hard time understanding the purpose of the documentary, especially since the film doesn’t do any independent research. It’s a mind-boggling, disjointed task to sit down to in all honesty.
The film promises a plethora of shocking, never-before-seen interviews with close friends and family members, but instead we get lip-synced re-enactments of interviews with housekeepers and supposed “friends.” of Monroe. It’s a total shame. Rumor this and rumour that. She said this and did that with him. It’s painfully basic and rudimentary in the most nauseating way imaginable. I learned nothing insightful from succumbing my mind and body to this poor excuse of a documentary for 101 minutes. My time would have been better spent daydreaming while staring at a fire (that would certainly have been more stimulating.)
Inexcusably offensive in its blatant mediocrity, “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes” proves that some mysteries are best left unsolved. 4 out of 10 damaging rolling eyes.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.