‘Pamela, a Love Story’ reviews : Pamela Anderson is ‘authentically likable’ in ‘surprisingly touching’ Netflix documentary

On January 31, 2023, Netflix released “Pamela, a Love Story,” a documentary telling the story of Pamela Anderson in her own words. It is described as “an intimate and humanizing portrait of one of the world’s most famous blonde bombshells. ‘Pamela, a Love Story’ follows the trajectory of Anderson’s life and career from small town girl to international sex symbol, actress, activist and doting mother.”

Early reviews are stellar for the film from Emmy-nominated director Ryan White (“The Keepers,” “The Case Against 8”). It currently holds a perfect 100% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience score of 88. Read our review roundup of “Pamela, a Love Story” below.

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Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praises the star, writing, “Pamela Anderson is an authentically likable screen presence in this intimate, if somehow elusive, documentary portrait from Ryan White; it is about her life and times and the super-strength misogyny she has faced from liberals and satirists in the long endgame of her celebrity career. (This, incidentally, is yet another documentary which shows how very badly talkshow monologues can date.)” Yes, her backstory is something that many already know about, but this is Anderson reclaiming the narrative. “Anderson is candid about the string of failed marriages and relationships she endured – although we don’t hear about the one with Jon Peters – and says they were all a desperate attempt to recapture the rocket-fuelled excitement of that first, gloriously romantic and outrageous wedding to Lee.” As for that famous tape, she adamantly denies leaking it and it makes the reviewer question if her ex had something to do with it. “As for the rest of it, such as her friendship with Julian Assange … well she hasn’t much to say about that, or if they are still in touch. Her campaign work for Peta? Audacious and admirable, but it isn’t clear if she’s still involved.” 

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle begins by noting, “If you watch ‘Pamela, A Love Story,’ you will probably discover a few things: that you like Pamela Anderson more than you realized, that she’s probably nicer than you think, that she’s an open book, that her sons are eminently normal and proud of her, and that she has some of the worst taste in men of any woman in public life.” You will also realize that this former “Baywatch” star is an intelligent, witty woman. “There’s a nice moment in which the 55-year-old Anderson looks at herself, at around 30, cavorting with Lee in the happy, early says of their marriage, and she says, ‘That was my time to be in love.'” This bliss was short-lived in the end with a miscarriage and a sex tape causing trauma. The damage was done but Anderson does not view herself as a victim. “Instead, the documentary ends with her pursuing an entire new direction in her career, with optimism and resilience.” 

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Dan Einav of the Financial Times says, “After six unhappy marriages, Pamela Anderson finally seems to have found someone who can offer her deep, meaningful love: herself. ‘Pamela, A Love Story’ is a new, surprisingly touching Netflix documentary that follows the former Baywatch star as she tries to find personal acceptance. Directed by the Emmy-nominated Ryan White (‘The Case Against 8’), it gives Anderson a chance to retake ownership of a life that has seemed to belong less to her than the public.”

Dan Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter states, “There aren’t that many key takeaways from Ryan White’s Netflix documentary Pamela, a love story, but perhaps the most important is this: Pamela Anderson knows what she’s doing.” Anderson is in full control of this tale produced by her son, Brandon Thomas Lee. “But in order to attract attention to the projects devoted to recovering that voice and reclaiming her narrative, Anderson isn’t opposed to seeding the ground with a few salacious details. So people are talking about the Tim Allen revelation from Love, Pamela and the claim from the documentary that Sylvester Stallone offered her a Porsche and a condo to be his mistress.” Fienberg continues, “She also — and this actually is a problem — has always been a fairly candid interview subject. Want to know what she thought about the theft and release of the Tommy Lee sex tape? For 25 years, she’s told anyone who would listen. Want to know about her generally complicated relationship with Lee, the father of her two sons? For 25 years, she’s told anyone who would listen. She’s talked about her horrible history with sexual violence, about feeling empowered when she first posed for Playboy, about her love for being in love.” He concludes, “Maybe in the last 30 minutes, Pamela, a love story (and Anderson herself) gets a new energy. She goes to New York to do a two-month stint in ‘Chicago’ on Broadway, and the process of rehearsing and then performing for appreciative audiences produces a joy and a pride that are all her own.” 

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