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2013 | 92 min | R | 1.85:1



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Theatrical release date

 09 August, 2013
 23 August, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

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Screenshots from Lovelace Blu-ray

Lovelace Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 8, 2013

“Lovelace” isn’t a bio-pic about the star of “Deep Throat.” The film is merely a slice of her story told from two different perspectives, highlighting the perceived thrill of adult cinema fame and its haunting reality. It’s not an education on the life and times of Linda Lovelace, but a glimpse of her years as a victim, with barely any effort put forward to secure a rounded portrait of a complicated existence. Although it’s nicely shot and agreeably acted by Amanda Seyfried, “Lovelace” is a superficial examination of profound pain and dubious character, keeping the material disappointingly one-note when it aches to be so much more comprehensive.

After suffering through an unplanned pregnancy and subsequent adoption, Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) has returned to live with her judgmental parents, John (Robert Patrick) and Dorothy (Sharon Stone), in Florida. Stifled by their strictness, Linda takes immediately to advances from Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), a sleazy control freak who enjoys corrupting lives with physical abuse and psychological manipulation. Unaware of his abyssal malevolence, Linda decides to marry Chuck, with the pair inching toward a career in pornography after discovering her special oral sex trick. Persuading director Gerard Damiano (Hank Azaria) and shady producer Anthony Romano (Chris Noth) to take a chance on the newcomer, Chuck scores Linda a starring role in 1972’s “Deep Throat,” which eventually develops into a top-grossing phenomenon. Thrust into the spotlight, Linda’s ride to fame is cut short by Chuck’s insecurities, beating the life out of his wife as pressure to repeat the “Deep Throat” success is applied once debts mount.

For a movie titled “Lovelace,” there’s a surprising dearth of meaty information about the woman found in the work. It’s a bizarre dramatic approach that doesn’t immediately reveal itself to the viewer, with directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and screenwriter Andy Bellin electing to recount the paring of Linda and Chuck from the beginning, where the hustler discovered his object of fixation at a roller rink, charmed by her good looks and tempted by her naivete. We discover how Chuck won over Linda’s difficult parents and witness the uneasy interplay of their relationship, a dynamic that eventually pushed the visibly bruised bride into submission, made to believe she couldn’t function without her husband. “Lovelace” sheds its bio-pic aspirations early on in the picture, moving over to the “Deep Throat” experience, where Linda Boreman was rechristened Linda Lovelace and greeted by co-star Harry Reems (a playful Adam Brody), going on to make a harmless little porno film that ended up a pop culture explosion, exposing its star to the world.

The production intentionally plays up Linda’s starry-eyed odyssey, following the overwhelmed woman as she meets with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Hugh Hefner (James Franco), attending screenings and welcoming fans. It’s the Hollywood E-ticket ride for the aspiring actress, taking a bite out of fame under Chuck’s watch, who keeps tight control of his wife despite her blossoming infamy. The directors don’t celebrate the whirlwind of “Deep Throat” in the early going, instead they isolate its infectious appeal as Linda is pushed to make a name for herself as suburbanites, tastemakers, and industry types sample the taboo picture. And then, suddenly, we lurch forward to 1978, where Linda is being subjected to a polygraph test to prove the authenticity of her upcoming book, “Ordeal,” where she details the horror of her rise to fame. “Lovelace” then rewinds itself back to the beginning and recounts the reality of Chuck’s obsessive behavior, only now instead of butterflies and smiles, Linda looks out into the world with a thousand-yard stare, subjected to beatings, humiliations, and eventually a gang rape.

Linda Lovelace was a complex person with a dubious history of chemical abuse and manipulation that’s not given its due in the film. “Lovelace” keeps her a victim, thrashed and exploited by Chuck, who’s nothing more than a yowling monster with bad facial hair, with Sarsgaard providing a predictable performance of showy rage and coked-out mania. We learn nothing about Linda and Chuck beyond their combustible relationship, finding huge chunks of the true story ignored to make vague points on personal liberation, where Linda decides years later to take back her life through writing, marrying a blue-collar man the movie never even identifies (after Chuck, it’s amazing Linda could even be in the same room with another guy). It’s a shallow portrayal of such an incendiary life, holding strictly to surface beats of distress out of fear that any deeper inspection of the subject might require an entire reworking of Linda’s saintly image.

Seyfried is consistent here, looking wounded and overwhelmed while squeaking out a wavering New York accent. It’s a fine performance that hits all the required notes of despair and inspiration, transforming Linda from a dewy young thing with blazing sex appeal to a thick-skinned feminist out to retrieve her good name. The supporting cast is terrific, adding necessary color to the picture, though Patrick deserves special attention for making two minutes of screentime as Linda’s dad devastatingly emotional, watching the hardened man expose teary confusion to his daughter over the corrupted life she’s elected to lead. It’s powerful work, the best acting of Patrick’s career.

“Lovelace” misfires often, though it’s compellingly assembled with retro cinematography and bold costuming. There’s more to the Linda Lovelace story than the production is letting on, making their eventual narrative path confusing instead of informative, leaving the subject devoid of personality and human textures that could support such a tempting cinematic investigation.

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Juno Temple, Adam Brody
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

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