‘Pamela, A Love Story’ – Review

Although her story is tragic, Pamela Anderson and Ryan White bring a sense of romance to her recap that feels like an exercise in meditation and a tale of ownership rather than a documentary.

In a post-Framing Britney Spears world, society is reflecting on past mistreatment of over-sexualized women in media and one of the most egregious was Pamela Anderson. From the moment she was discovered, her image belonged to everyone except her.

In Pamela, A Love Story, director Ryan White rewinds the story back to a little girl from an island in British Columbia. From a young age, the small town girl was exposed to abuse inflicted on her by others. After being discovered while sitting in the crowd at a Canadian football game, Pamela Anderson was flown out to Los Angeles to pose for the infamous Playboy magazine.

The blonde bombshell was thrown into fame without proper media training, so to her she was always an open book. The documentary uses talk show and red carpet clips that show respected journalists at big outlets crossing the boundaries by bombarding Anderson with questions about her body and boyfriends that is truly disgusting to watch. She is self-aware that her body is a huge reason for her success, so she answers each question graciously. 

For Anderson, posing for Playboy helped her reclaim her sexuality from her childhood trauma and body disassociation. In her own words, she describes the experience of feeling that she had broken free and regained her power only for her to gain an inescapable reputation. Once she had been seen as a sexual object, the dehumanization by society had begun where women isolated her from the feminist cause. The stolen sex tape further cemented her legacy as a sex icon.

Anderson’s choices to pose for Playboy and star in Baywatch were weaponized against her and reframed not as freedom but as she chose to be exploited. The only difference between her being in Playboy and the sex tape is that she chose to be in the magazine, whereas the sex tape being leaked without her consent felt like rape to her. Anderson was subsequently punished by the same audience that had been infatuated with her sexuality. 

Anderson finally has the chance to tell the world her story in a style that encapsulates who she is. While everyone already knows the trajectory of her career, the documentary feels like a performance piece on the context of living within fame and its effect on expressing emotion and connection. Completely bare as the natural sunlit frames her face for the audience to look into her soul, she blends journal entries from childhood and archival footage.

In Pamela, A Love Story, Anderson candidly opens her vault to share her emotions and feelings behind some of the most infamous moments from her first Playboy spread to her stolen sex tape. White grants her the humanity that society has taken away, and doesn’t present her as a victim but rather as a resilient survivor who is ready for her next chapter. 

Grade: A

Oscar Prospects:
Likely: None
Should be Considered: None

Where to Watch: Netflix

Jillian Chilingerian
she/her @JillianChili
Lives in LA
Favorite Director: David Fincher
Sign: Leo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: