The phrase “Intimate” is continuously used when describing superstar documentaries, however it definitely applies to “Pamela, a love story,” which at one level exhibits Pamela Anderson lounging within the bathtub as parts of her diaries are learn as voiceover. The result’s a humanizing have a look at a lady typically lowered to cartoon caricature, whereas often feeling too conspicuously like a licensed product.
Produced by, amongst others, Anderson’s son Brandon Thomas Lee, director Ryan White (whose biographical documentaries embody “Ask Dr. Ruth” and “Serena”) had entry not solely to her diaries however a group of house films – together with, sure, the one stolen and posted for the world to see, of Anderson having intercourse together with her then-husband, drummer Tommy Lee.
Anderson, now 55, speaks at size of that interlude, the invasiveness of getting personal materials proven and exploited in that style, and what she clearly sees as a reopening of these wounds with Hulu’s restricted sequence “Pam & Tommy,” which dramatized these occasions.
Anderson’s account truly does little to detract from that Emmy-nominated manufacturing, which was fairly sympathetic in portraying the damage she felt and the way in which the media handled her. Certainly, the clips introduced right here of late-night comics cashing in on Anderson as a punchline, or interviewers Matt Lauer and Larry King asking her about her breasts, do as a lot to endorse the Hulu model as undermine it.
“Pamela” makes clear that Anderson is letting her guard down proper from the outset, as she seems makeup-free, hanging out within the small British Columbia city the place she grew up, earlier than getting found at a soccer recreation (followers “oohed” when she appeared on the scoreboard digicam) launched her as a mannequin and into the pages of Playboy.
As Anderson tells it, throughout that point she reclaimed her sexuality, having skilled abuse on multiple event as a toddler.
Worldwide stardom on “Baywatch” adopted, and it’s amusing to listen to Anderson reminisce not solely about all of the celebrities she dated throughout that stretch, however the entire “Working on the seaside in sluggish movement” imagery. (There’s no point out of “Dwelling Enchancment,” or Anderson’s latest allegations in her memoir of being flashed by its star, Tim Allen, which the comedian has denied.)
The indignities of that “blond bombshell” standing are properly documented right here. Ditto for the intrusions of the paparazzi, who dogged her significantly after the whirlwind romance with Lee.
The feeding frenzy surrounding the intercourse tape “solidified the cartoon picture” of her, Anderson recollects, including, “I knew at that time my profession was over.”
Whereas “Pamela” handles all of that fairly nicely, an excessive amount of of the remainder of it performs just like the Hallmark Card model of Anderson’s story, from the cloying, saccharine music to the interviews together with her sons, whose protectiveness towards their mom is admirable however not particularly enlightening.
The final a part of the documentary additionally feels a bit scattered, venturing into areas like Anderson’s animal-rights activism by means of PETA, her advocacy for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and, lastly, her Broadway debut in “Chicago.”
At its greatest, “Pamela, a love story” strips away what in hindsight appears to be like like misogynistic media protection – obsessed together with her appears to be like and relationships – to contemplate the individual behind all of that, whereas proving just a little too decided and pliable within the purpose of serving to Anderson assert possession over her narrative.
At these moments, “Pamela” would possibly work as a love story, however it fares rather less nicely as a documentary.
“Pamela, a love story” premieres January 31 on Netflix.