Written by: Adam Vaughn | January 30th, 2023
Pamela: A Love Story (Ryan White, 2023) 3 out of 4 stars.
The time is right for Pamela Anderson, the famous actress, to come out of her isolation to bring us an in-depth exploration of her life, rise to fame as a model, and the troubles that arose from her sexualized popularity and past relationships. Anderson is the main (and only) interviewee of the documentary, accompanied by exclusive footage of her career, as well as personal diary entries that show a never-before-heard perspective of various key events in her life. While Pamela: A Love Story is extraordinarily informative and well-rounded in telling Anderson’s story from her perspective, one cannot help but feel by its conclusion that the film’s single tone and voice gives it a kind of tunnel vision.
The doc begins chronologically, with Anderson explaining her humbled upbringing in Ladysmith, British Columbia, where she experienced abuse from babysitters, boyfriends, and a troubling dynamic between her mother and father. Director Ryan White (Good Night Oppy) blends footage and photography, Anderson’s dialogue, and excerpts from Anderson’s diary to create powerful sequences that not only highlight the experience of being a young, intimate model for one of the biggest names in adult entertainment (Playboy), but also clarifying key moments such as Anderson’s relationship with Tommy Lee and shedding light on the highly controversial release of their “sex tape.”
Pamela: A Love Story is a story about Pamela, by Pamela, but in the end, one must admit the documentary does a great deal of patting itself on the back for various moments. In some ways, it seems to fully glorify Pamela Anderson by redacting any and all outside opinion, even by people who played key parts of the journey, regardless of their stance on the subject. While it does not by any means inhibit the film’s influence on the viewer, it does keep the film from reaching a narratively interesting peak.
The film ends with two major (and recent) events in Pamela Anderson’s life. The conclusion both address the release of the Hulu limited series Pam & Tommy—in which Anderson explains how her life once again felt like it was being manipulated by the industry and skewed out of context—as well as leaves the viewer with a very hopeful tone, as Anderson branches out and stars on Broadway’s production of “Chicago,” playing the role of Roxie. By the end of the movie, a viewer with no background knowledge feels well informed, and any fan of Pamela Anderson and her life-long journey will surely find the personal experience to be well-portrayed.