You expect most biographical documentaries to fawn over their subjects, but the star here also reveals some difficult and even unflattering pieces of her past, and the result is an engaging film.
A sex symbol of the 1990s, model-actress Pamela Anderson appears makeup-free in her 50s and wearing shapeless gowns for much of Pamela: A Love Story. The appearance is a far cry from her carefully-crafted image of the past, and it seems to suggest that viewers should expect authenticity from her in these taped interviews.
Surely there's a lot left unsaid (for example, on drug use, money issues, the ways Anderson exploited her own image), but Anderson does delve into some very painful experiences from her childhood and offers what seem like honest accounts of her many failed marriages.
Her breakup with her first husband Tommy Lee, a relationship she still admits she's not entirely over, is discussed in detail, and her now-grown sons talk about their parents. (Son Brandon co-produced this film.)
The film makes heavy use of past home videos Anderson has collected, as well as dozens of journals she wrote in and saved. Like so many in the '90s, she says they videotaped everything.
Of course, the sex tape she and Lee became famous for (and the subject of the recent Hulu show Pam and Tommy) is also addressed at length. The home videos remind (or introduce) viewers to the global phenomenon she was in her Playboy and Baywatch days, as well as the surprising way she was "discovered" and the relative risks she took in getting her start.
In the end, Anderson reinvents herself again, taking a physically demanding role in a Broadway revamp of Chicago and earning surprisingly positive reviews.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Netflix.