CHENNAI: Despite her carefully cultivated image, Hollywood bombshell Pamela Anderson comes across as a gentle soul, humble and brutally frank in her new documentary “Pamela, a Love Story,” now on Netflix.
Directed by Ryan White and produced by her son Brandon Tommy Lee, the documentary is an unabashed look at the life of one of the entertainment industry’s most famous stars.
We learn how an early photoshoot with notorious magazine Playboy earned her the lifelong tag of a “sex bomb,” despite her on-screen talent. In cult classic TV show “Baywatch,” in which she plays C.J. Parker, the camera exploited her physique in no uncertain terms, but it is clear that she was a decent actress — expressive and emotional.
Sadly, Pamela's life has had more downs than ups and despite penning two New York Times-bestselling books among other triumphs, the “bimbo” image has come to define her.
The director elicits information about some of the painful, lesser-known details of Anderson’s youth, including multiple sexual assaults during early adolescence.
Sadly, there is more — an alcoholic father who abused her mother and, later, a tape of her most intimate moments with her husband, Tommy Lee, that was stolen and widely circulated, much to their discomfort.
The new documentary also includes the actress’s reaction to 2022 Hulu series “Pam & Tommy,” which is based on the fallout from the theft of her and Tommy Lee’s honeymoon tape. She told White the new series “felt like rape” in one of the more telling moments of the new feature, in which her feelings toward to rumbling Hollywood machine are clear.
“Pam & Tommy” was widely denounced by Anderson at the time of its release and it does seem as though this new documentary, as well as her newly published memoir “Love, Pamela,” is a bold attempt to reclaim her narrative.
However, when she speaks to the camera in the documentary, I did not feel any bitterness. She keeps her cool when talking about the sex tapes, which boosted Tommy’s career. There is no apparent rancour on display here, and no sourness when she mentions her other three husbands, who came and went. All in all, it paints an image of a woman who has been through a media firestorm and survived.
However, Ryan White’s documentary — with extensive interviews conducted at her lakeside property in Vancouver — is a tad shallow, even incomplete. For other than her sons, Brandon and Dylan, nobody key is interviewed. This is a rather lazy — or highly controlled — way of building a documentary.
Also, I felt that with her boys present, Pamela was a bit circumspect and appears to have built a wall between herself and the interviewer.