'The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes': Major letdown
Netflix came out with yet another true-crime documentary and this time the focus is on yesteryear's Hollywood superstar Marilyn Monroe and her sudden death at 36 in 1962. The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, directed by Emma Cooper, promises to give us something new, something completely unheard of—but well, fails to fulfill the promise on this account. Here's our review.
Do we really need to dissect any more into what happened to the Hollywood actor after decades of her passing? The topic is enticing for sure, as it supports the pleasure of gossip and conspiracy theories. But how much of this discussion is worth it when none of the findings are new? The latest documentary is based on investigative journalist Anthony Summers's book.
Speaking of the need to dissect Monroe's life, Netflix is also bankrolling a biopic of the actor. Titled Blonde, Knives Out actor Ana de Armas will be seen playing the lead role in the Andrew Dominik directorial. It will co-star Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale.
In 1982, when Monroe's case had been reopened, Summers was given the task by a publication to look into her death. He had interviewed thousands of people who knew Monroe and built his investigation on 650 tapes. Now, Cooper and editor Gregor Lyon assemble portions from these tapes to give us a complete picture. Thus, there's no new research that went into the documentary.
Cooper divides her one-hour and 41-minutes runtime almost too neatly. Aided by Anne Nikitin's compositions, we go from the rise of the bubbly and shy girl to the melancholic end. It suggests Monroe's death might have been due to her romantic relations with the Kennedy brothers (former US President John and ex-US Attorney General Robert Kennedy). However, we get no proof of it.
But while talking about truth, the use of sleazy narrative and conspiratory style really doesn't help in gaining the viewers' confidence. The documentary surely draws you in because of the promises it holds (will we know if Monroe didn't die by suicide, intentional or otherwise?). However, such pretenses can help you go only so far. Verdict: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe gets 2/5 stars.