Pamela: A Love Story (15A) seems a quirky title for a documentary on Pamela Anderson, famous for being a Playboy centrefold, a babe and the unwitting star of an infamous sex tape with her then-husband, the Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee. From the beginning, however, Ryan White’s film confounds expectations.
Filmed for the most part on Vancouver Island, in the idyllic rural setting that was her childhood home, the 50-something Anderson is virtually unrecognisable as the blonde bombshell who was arguably the world’s most recognisable pop culture icon in the 1990s. But it’s not just the lack of mascara and lippy that comes as a surprise: as she excavates her library of diaries (‘I always loved to write,’ she tells us) and recalls a childhood brutally interrupted by domestic violence and rape, Pamela makes good on her promise “that nothing is hidden here”.
It’s not always an easy watch, and especially when — in the company of her adult sons, Dylan and Brandon — she relives the horror of the period when that sex tape was released to the world without her knowledge, which wasn’t just a heartbreaking invasion of privacy but essentially made her a figure of ridicule that torpedoed her acting career.
Achingly vulnerable, Anderson has married and divorced six times, which she attributes to a naïve belief in true love; and yet, as she talks about her miscarriage, and why she irrevocably split from Tommy Lee, there’s no doubting this is a woman of considerable inner steel.
Honest, self-deprecating, funny and wise, Pamela Anderson makes for brilliant company.