Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me, a new documentary about the model, actress and ’90s tabloid sensation, follows a trend established by other nonfiction portraits of démodé stars released in recent years, such as “Britney vs Spears” and “Pamela, a Love Story.” Half biography, half supercilious media studies essay, these films are intended to be sort of pop-cultural correctives, ones which deconstruct the popular image of celebrity by demonstrating (not unfairly) that their subjects were vilified and callously misjudged in their times.
It’s a missed opportunity. I’m not sure there’s much to say about Smith, but would have loved for the movie to convince me otherwise. But despite a fairly chronological unraveling of familiar images of and interviews and with the starlet, You Don’t Know Me lacks focus. And there are large gaps where there is no film footprint to regurgitate. What happened between her court case to inherit her late husband’s wealth and her reemergence on her self-titled show on E!?
The documentary also has no thesis. It just re-purposes film to create new content. If there is a tale to tell about Smith, it isn’t told here.