Marilyn’s Last Sessions: A Graphic Novel

Marilyn’s Last Sessions – a novel reimagining her relationship with psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson – earned French author Michel Schneider the Prix Interallié when it was first published in 2006, and an English translation soon followed. Schneider also collaborated with filmmaker Patrick Jeudy on a feature-length documentary of the same name.

Due to Schneider’s reliance on dubious sources like John Miner – the LA lawyer whose ‘transcription’ of tapes Marilyn supposedly made for Greenson has been widely contested by her biographers (not least because the tapes have never been retrieved) – the novel and documentary were far less warmly received by Monroe fans than Schneider’s literary peers.

However, Marilyn’s Last Sessions has now been given another lease of life in a graphic novel adaptation by French artist Louison, available in hardback and via Kindle. It’s visually arresting, and perhaps a woman’s perspective will finally address the problematic source material. (Prior releases from publisher Futuropolis include Hollywood Liar, a 2019 graphic novel by former Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz, inspired by the filming of The Misfits.)

“From January 1960 until August 4, 1962, Ralph Greenson was Marilyn Monroe’s psychoanalyst. She had given him the mission of helping her to get up, to play at the cinema, to love, not to die. This story retraces the tormented relationship between Marilyn and this man who was in turn a father, a mother, a friend but who could not save her from herself, her fear and her loneliness. He was the last person to see her alive and the first to find her dead.

When the actress spoke to Greenson in 1960, he was a well-known Freudian psychoanalyst from the west coast, but also a man fascinated by cinema and Marilyn was certainly the goddess of sex but also a woman suffering from inhibitions and anxiety who has already had recourse to the care of two psychoanalysts in New York. During their first meeting, Greenson grasps Marilyn’s narcissistic fragility, manifested in particular by a barbiturate addiction, and with caution he refuses her the couch and offers her face-to-face psychotherapy.

But very quickly their relationship slips and Greenson intervenes more and more massively in reality, gradually abandoning everything that should have constituted the analytical framework of this cure. He introduces him to his family, takes care of his professional contracts, supplies him with the barbiturates himself, etc. Of the two, who had control over the other? Who was destroying the other? The mystery remains intact.

A brilliant adaptation of Michel Schneider’s novel, Interallié Prize 2006. Louison focuses his story on the sessions between Marilyn Monroe and her psychoanalyst to better reveal to us the intimacy of a broken woman behind her star status.”