Past and Present: Our Review of ‘Pamela, a love story’

Posted in Movies, Netflix, What's Streaming? by - January 29, 2023
Past and Present: Our Review of ‘Pamela, a love story’

Pamela Anderson reads one of her diary entries. “Maybe I’ll write a book someday,” the narrator winsomely says. This is the younger version of her by the way, during the 80s just before she graduates high school. By 2023, she eventually writes a series of books, but that’s not what the average person knows her for. Instead, she’s famous for starring in Baywatch. She’s also famous because someone leaked a sex tape of her and then husband Tommy Lee, an invasion of both her privacy and identity. She spends the rest of her life reclaiming the right to define herself and Ryan White’s Pamela, a love story, is part of that reclamation.

Anderson makes for a decent documentary subject just because of the amount of archival footage that is available. White lovingly captures every diary and legal pad that she uses, and he includes every home video that she and Lee recorded. These home videos even includes behind the scenes footage of her working on the critical bomb Barb Wire. And they accompany those things with contemporaneous interview segments. She reveals what she remembers of doesn’t about the young adult version of herself who worked a lot. These interviews expectedly show her self-deprecating humour. She replicates the voice that she tries to put on as the titular Barb Wire, which she laughs at today.

Pamela, a love story¬†sounds like a pro-Pamela puff piece and in some ways, it does. There is a lot of calculation in Pamela, a love story about someone who claims to not know how to sell herself as a brand. Anderson doesn’t wear makeup during her interviews and it feels like a deliberate choice to show that she’s a woman in her fifties and everything that age symbolizes. Anderson, in her words, doesn’t know who stole the tape, even if that info is readily available on Google. Although in fairness, eff him. Nonetheless, some of these calculations feel necessary and they work.

Specifically, the documentary leads to the archive news footage of the police intervening after Lee inflicts several injuries to her. Anderson describes people and herself through their actions. She also talks about Lee with nuance as both an abuser and someone she still loves cautiously, because she can see him as both. She also has some revelations about the other men in her life. I never thought that Kid Rock would be one of her top two husband but apparently he is. Prepare for some wild musical cues as she talks about Rick Solomon. And what she says about leaving those husbands sound brave even for 2023. Brave is also apt in describing her activism and Broadway stint.

The actress isn’t the only person in the interview chair here. Sometimes, Anderson’s sons Brandon and Dylan share their thoughts about living under a tumultuous household. One with some similarities to the one she experiences as a child in Ladysmith, British Columbia. The documentary juxtaposes archive footage of Brandon and Dylan as babies smiling with revelatory narration from the three. The elder Anderson discusses love, how the Greeks define it versus her experiences with Lee. All three evince a sense of introspection that comes with these kind of celebrity documentaries. But they still provide insight on contradictory opinions of identity and love and mistakes that makes this a passable experience.

Addressing the elephant in the room, Pamela, a love story is finally a direct response to the Disney+ miniseries about the worst part in that young family’s life. The showrunners had good intentions in writing that miniseries. I’ve seen enough of it to know and see those intentions. It’s an attempt to change the narrative in Anderson’s life. She’s one of the many blondes that Western society mistreated during the turn of the 21st century. But there’s the two sides in showing Pamela as Pagliacci in that it feels like they’re writing a premature eulogy. This documentary, thankfully, shows its subject as a living being whose story is still ongoing.

  • Release Date: 1/30/2023
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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