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Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me is a compilation of clips dumped on screen, fails to weave it into a story

The life of Anna Nicole Smith was a troublesome one. Despite this, she grew up to be a loving human and an inspiration to many. However, this documentary fails to keep viewers hooked on the screens.

Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me is a compilation of clips dumped on screen, fails to weave it into a story

A still from the trailer of Anna Nicole Smith's documentary on Netflix

Last Updated: 11.23 PM, May 18, 2023


‘I would just advise people just to follow their dreams’ - this is the message the documentary tries to convey to its viewers. However, one often forgets the fact that there is a clear distinction between the concept of being passionate and being over-passionate about your career. Being passionate is fine, but by being over-passionate, one often forgets to keep a check on one's health and close ones - that gives rise to a bundle of problems. This is the core flavor of the documentary based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith.

About the story

Born in Texas, United States, the life of Anna Nicole Smith – a successful model, actress, and television personality - was nowhere close to a fairytale. She had a troubled childhood with traumatic memories. She claimed that she was raped by her stepfather at the tender age of thirteen. Not only this, but her real mother also used to beat her up as a child – a claim that even compelled her to opt out of high school. After gathering courage, she ran away from her home and started a job at a burger shop.

Those who knew Anna knew for a fact that she was a beautiful girl inside and out. As a girl, she was very expressive and vocal about her thoughts and opinions. Often, boys used to fall in love with her and ask her out to go on a date, which she politely declined. Gradually, as time passed, Anna (known as Vickie Lynn Hogan in her childhood) fell in love with the head chef of the place, Billy Wayne Smith. They both tied the knot when he was 16 and Anna was just 17 years old. A year later, Anna gave birth to their child, Daniel Wayne Smith.

If you think Anna’s life soon turned out to be better, let me bust your myth. Anna’s life did not begin to be rosy at all. Soon after she gave birth to the baby, her husband asked her to quit the job. This thought was resisted by Anna, but her efforts went in vain. She was often locked up at home by Billy and not treated well. Soon, the self-motivated teenager decided to separate from Billy and moved to Houston to live with her aunt.

Anna knew she was a beautiful girl. In the documentary, the aunt claimed that knowing this fact, Anna wanted to start a career in modelling and earn lots of money for herself and her child, Daniel. The aunt goes on to remark that Anna even enjoyed having sex with people, which as per Anna’s beliefs was merely an act of being expressive.

Turning her passion into a profession, Anna joined a strip club in Houston where she met the then 86-year-old petroleum tycoon J. Howard Marshall. They both fell in love with each other and soon started living together. While some news portals claimed that the couple got married, a clipping in the documentary showed Anna confessing that she would not marry Marshall owing to fears of being called a gold digger.

For a brief period, Anna’s life appeared comforting. Anna started her career as a Playboy magazine centerfold in May 1992 and gained recognition after winning the title of 1993 Playmate of the Year. Her dream of becoming a rich and famous personality was inching closer. She started receiving offers from filmmakers across the globe. However, with fame, little did she realize that she gave un-necessitated invitations to troubles.

The documentary also threw light on the fact that as she grew older, she did not feel confident about her body and looks. She even got breast surgery done so that she could look a certain way. The problem of not being confident enough about her looks grew bigger and for the worse. She became addicted to drugs.

Years later, Marshall died. At this point in time, Anna’s financial situation started deteriorating. This affected the life of the only person she loved the most, her son Daniel as well. Daniel became a patient of depression and was sent to rehab for treatment.

The documentary ends with Anna’s death due to a drug overdose.


My Views

Let’s be honest. In today’s generation, not many people are a fan of watching documentaries unless and until they feel strongly connected to the individual being talked about in the film. This thought holds true here as well. Unless and until you wish to know about the intricate details of the life of Anna Nicole Smith, this documentary is a waste of time for you. Even for those watching the film for just being an adult film.

This film, as one might expect to see in a documentary, consists of a huge of clippings put together to depict the life story of Anna Nicole Smith that goes beyond tabloid narratives and tries to tell the true story of a complex, ambitious woman who dies at the age of 40. The story begins with the makers of the film, (director) Ursula Macfarlane and (producer) Alexandra Lacey, giving a brief about Anna’s childhood.

Travelling from Texas to Houston to the Bahamas and then being brought dead to the USA, this documentary tries too hard to connect the clippings of her life story and weave it into a proper story.

Adding to the problem is the duration of the documentary. The documentary is stretched to about two hours, which can either make you sleep or skip the scenes. Also, it’s pointless to mention the music of the film as there is no music in the documentary. Only a few clippings contain background music like in scenes where Anna is driving the car or is attending an event etc. which adds no charm to the film. It is simply about a bunch of people close to Anna, who tell stories.

I think the makers of the film forgot the fact that Anna was an adored, celebrated pop culture icon of the 90s era. In toto, the film fails to grip the attention of viewers towards the magnetic life of Anna.

Just a suggestion. Instead of just telling viewers “what” all Anna faced in her life, it would have been better if the makers could have shown “how” she faced it. Also, it would have been better if the makers would have chosen to show a few chapters of Anna’s life and focus on it, instead of hoping from one topic to another (just like a child who is unable to finish his exam due to paucity of time.)


Watch this documentary only if you have a keen interest in knowing about the life of Anna Nicole Smith. And, also, if you do not care about the duration of the film or whether it contains music or not.


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