Pamela: a love story review: A stunningly naked and cathartic insight to a wild life
The Baywatch story is ready to tell her story in her own terms – and its a joyous
Watch a trailer for Netflix's Pamela, a love story
It's so easy to assume that we know Pamela Anderson's story inside out. Between the overexposure, multiple marriages, career highs, sex tape lows, documentaries and a recent high-profile dramatisation, there doesn't seem much left to mine from her life.
But then you watch Netflix's Pamela, a love story — streaming from 31 January — and you get a whole new perspective on everything.
With a bright and bubbly public persona, Anderson made her name as the ultimate blonde bombshell. The Baywatch babe, the Playboy model with a handle on her sexuality and prowess most can only dream of.
But away from prying eyes, she was a highly anxious and nervous home girl who only really wanted one thing: to fall hopelessly in love.
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In the documentary, Anderson hands over her diaries, home movies and story to a camera crew. Through interviews and flashbacks, she proves to be someone hilariously funny and self-deprecating, who after unimaginable difficulties has become perfectly aware of her place in the world.
We meet her on the eve of her Broadway debut in Chicago as Roxy Hart: a character who has more in common with her than she initially realised. It also happens to be around the time the promotional tour starts for Disney+'s Pam And Tommy, a retelling of the sex tape story that has marked her career in the 28 years since.
It's something she compares to sexual assault and leaves her feeling sick.
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Pam And Tommy's arrival is so emblematic of how she's been forced to live. As she's looking forward to a new and different future, she cannot help but be reminded of her past. Rather than shy away from it, she instead takes the reins, and decides to tell her story on her own terms. The good, the bad and the ugly.
You come to realise this is nothing new for Anderson. This is the woman that has been given a whole load of lemons, but is determined to keep turning things into lemonade.
Anderson seems to have a natural talent for storytelling. While, as always, there's a gloss on her version of events, particularly when it comes to her tumultuous relationship with Tommy Lee, she will be the first person to admit as such.
But still, there's something about her. She has a glow and a self-awareness most celebrities seem to lack, under no illusion about how she got where she did, and what it took to get there.
With this, Anderson recounts harrowing and heartbreaking tales of sexual assault, domestic abuse, miscarriage and being used with devastating clarity... only to make us laugh moments later.
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As her sons say in the documentary, she's pretty badass.
It's a surprisingly emotionally resonant film, and while you may go in wanting answers to certain things which you might not get, it's Anderson's story to tell and overtime you see her come out of the shell.
Taking ownership of her experiences sees her bloom as she starts cracking jokes to the camera crew and finds comfort with them. She stops double-checking herself, and instead embraces the process she's put herself in.
From this, you do get some insights which may surprise you – home movies of her kids, an overview of her relationship with Julian Assange, and how she's coped with the type of public dismemberment which would leave others running from the spotlight, never to look back.
What you're left with is a joyous movie celebrating the life she likes. She's someone you're a fool to underestimate and who, despite her many, many knocks in the public eye, continues to get back up.
Like the title suggests, this film is a love story – though not entirely the one you expect. Sure, she reflects on her five marriages and their failings, but she also documents the love she has for her children, her family, Canada and — by the end of the film — herself.
You can tell Anderson finds catharsis in, no pun intended, laying things bare like never before. After what life in the media eye has done to her, it's the least she deserves.
Pamela, a love story is streaming on Netflix from 31 January.