Anna Nicole (2007)

Anna Nicole Smith died on February 8th, 2007 at the age of 39. Five weeks later, producer Jack Nasser announced he was making a biopic about her with the assurance that it wouldn’t focus on the trash. And there’s the rub. If you remove all the trash from an Anna Nicole biopic, there’s not much of a story left to tell.

 

Opening with a framing device that tries to be too clever by half, Anna Nicole narrates her own life in what a title surprisingly informs us is Present Day Texas. Flashback to 1987, where Anna is struggling as a single mum with dreams of being the next Marilyn Monroe. An encounter with a sleazy photographer convinces her that working at a strip club may be an easier way to earn a buck. Fast forward a couple of years and our plucky heroine is drinking patrons under the table and smooching with an aged billionaire.  Hmmm… lucky they didn’t focus on the trash.

 

Yet the film does attempt to portray Anna Nicole in a good light. Despite their age difference Anna’s relationship with J Howard Marshall II is depicted as genuine and caring, as is Anna’s love for her son. But the screenwriter seems incapable of expanding this beyond Anna asking Daniel if he is feeling ok and reminding him to take his tablets. Paradoxically, Willa Ford’s performance is pedestrian except when she is depicting Anna at her worst.

 

A return to Present Day Anna watching her own dead body being taken away by an ambulance ensures this biopic remains as much of a train-wreck as the life it depicts.

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Anna Nicole worked at more than the one strip club depicted in the biopic. She started off in a men’s club called The Executive Suite, and was working at Rick’s when she met J Howard Marshall II.

 

J Howard Marshall II was frailer than his depiction in this biopic would suggest. At the time he met Anna Nicole, he was visiting strip clubs in his wheelchair.

Only footage recreating ‘performances’ of Anna Nicole Smith are brief excerpts from her reality TV show and commercials for Trim Spa.

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