Saturday 23 September 2023

Movie review: Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t know Me, Netflix (2023)

Like a westerly wind the name Anna Nicole Smith had some resonance with me but I didn’t know anything about her life before watching this movie. From a small town in Texas to overdose on medications, Smith was a kind of phenomenon who used her natural charms to take on the world but lost.

It’s hard to understand exactly where things got out of hand but there appears to be a lesson in this movie somewhere, probably because it’s so well made. I felt like I was really looking at America for the first time, the glitz and glamour, the empty promises of beauty, the diet pills, the painkillers, the cocaine, more painkillers. If China ever wanted an ad to show the world in order to back up its claim to be able to do society better than the US this film is it.

There’s even a contested estate to ripen the mix. Money money money money. Money. I really liked Smith however, and felt for her at every step. As she said there’s more mileage to be made from sad stories than from the happy ones, an excuse she used to justify taking elements from a friend’s life to embellish her own biography. Smith didn’t come from a broken home though the father was absent, she just wanted to get out of Mexia, Houston strip clubs were her ticket to fame and she grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Smith would go on to feature in Playboy and in ads for Guess jeans, it’s that Anglo dream of perfection again (see yesterday’s review).

Because there’s lots of money involved however it’s a lot of fun. Money is an elements of underbelly-type shows that always attracts a crowd of onlookers. Like paparazzi outside a Las Vegas disco we’re searching for that explosion of fame and stardom to enliven our lives. With Smith it was also commonplace, her reality TV excursions bringing her down to the level of the midday watcher of ‘Dr Phil’ or ‘Judge Judy’. Those lonely afternoons when you’re at home with nothing to do these days you don’t have to watch reruns of ‘Star Trek’ you can catch a documentary on Netflix. I did.

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