PAMELA, A LOVE STORY -- An All Guts, No Glory Portrayal of This Iconic Sex Symbol
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Pamela, a love story documents the life and family of world-famous model and actress Pamela Anderson. She had a rough upbringing. Her father was an alcoholic. He was abusive to her mother, and they left him several times. This adversely affected her. She also had a couple of abusive sexual encounters with a babysitter. Still, she persevered and chose to go out in the world and explore and see what it had for her outside her small-town community in Canada. Little did she know what her life would entail.
Pamela Anderson was just your average small-town girl in Canada when she was seen on the jumbotron of a Canadian football game. She was wearing a Labatt Blue shirt which sparked them to put her in ads and a calendar and become a Labatt Blue Girl. Then she got a call to be in Playboy from Marilyn Grabowski, and the rest is history. She became one of the biggest sex symbols in the history of Hollywood.
The film goes year by year, going through her life starting in 1989, using archival footage mostly captured by camcorders of Pam and Tommy's. The videotapes are the best tool to see how her whirlwind courtship with Tommy Lee started in Cancun, Mexico and how their life was torn apart when one of these tapes was stolen and sold to various publications and spurned the internet age of sex videos. This story was already made into a series on Hulu starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan as Pam & Tommy, but seeing it in documentary form is still fascinating.
Also, the film has a female narrator dictating Pamela's Diaries, which she wrote on dozens of legal pads. She wrote about everything that happened in her life, the good and the bad. It helped contextualize all the drama that happened to Pam & Tommy back then and how their relationship unraveled. The kids, Branden and Dylan, came into the picture at this point in her life.
The film also has Pamela in the modern time, talking about living at home in Canada in her little town of Ladysmith, British Columbia, and her parents. She talks about her many boyfriends before and after Tommy Lee, giving birth to her sons Brandan and Dylan, her activism, and doing the Broadway play Chicago playing the iconic Roxie Hart.
Ryan White, the filmmaker, used the talking heads of Pam and her two sons as a reference between all the other aspects of the film. The film effectively showed Pam's personal life at home and in the public eye, her work life filming Baywatch and Barbwire, and all the controversies that come along with the entertainment side of her life. This was a very candid look at this woman and her family, who has suffered a lot.
Documentaries are a good form of film because they can get to the heart of their subject matter, and Pamela, a love story does that impeccably well. Anderson is very candid in her opinions and how she puts all her dirty laundry out there for everyone to see. This was a terrific film about this woman who is more than just a sex symbol. This is a must-see documentary.
Pamela, a love story streams on Netflix beginning January 31.
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