Lovelace professes to lay bare the turbulent life of Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) in stark contrast to public perception at the time, but ultimately falls short of delivering any real emotional punch.
Linda Boreman shot to international fame in 1972 as Linda Lovelace, the lead in hardcore pornographic movie, Deep Throat, which went on to make an estimated $30m-$50m from a budget under $50k. The main conceit of Deep Throat is that unfortunate Lovelace can’t fully enjoy all of the nuances of sexual liberation because her clitoris happens to be located beyond her tonsils – therefore there’s only one logical solution.
Now that porn is so accessible and seemingly normal for a generation of people, it’s hard to really appreciate the social impact that Deep Throat had at the time of its release. The film made Lovelace into a veritable star and was a sensational hot topic for people on all sides of the sexual spectrum. It also gave American television an ample topic for discussion along with targets for late-night talk-shows, with even Bob Hope stating that he had to walk out of a screening because he’d thought it was a film about a giraffe.
The first act of Lovelace tells the idealistic story of swaggering Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) sweeping Linda off her feet. Taking her on a sometimes turbulent, constantly exciting, yet still charming trip from her wholesome Catholic upbringing to superstardom as a pin-up girl for the sexual revolution. The shoot for Deep Throat is handled somewhat peculiarly, as it’s given a light-hearted and comedic turn in an otherwise broadly serious film. However, once the film is released, Linda gets to live the life of a somewhat unconventional celebrity, rubbing shoulders with Sammy Davis Jr. along with a seemingly friendly Hugh Heffner (James Franco).
Behind the glamour and sheen of Lovelace lies the true story of her life, disclosed in her 1980 memoir, Ordeal, and the focus for act two.
Traynor turns from controlling Lothario to downright abusive as we’re made to re-live parts of the first act with the benefit of hindsight. Given some graphic demonstrations of how Traynor used and controlled Linda to his own end, he would even pimp her out to whoever will pay him enough to cover his debts to a Deep Throat investor, and Mafioso figure, played by Chris Noth.
It’s this second act where the film starts to lack the engrossing, suffocating emotional pull which it’s striving for. As good as Seyfried’s performance is, which is very good indeed, it’s never enough to make us to really live her struggle or connect with her in any meaningful way.
Linda is painted wholly as a naïve victim of both spousal abuse and the porn industry, which is no surprise when you see that members of her family were used as consultants for the production. Maybe if we were allowed to see the bad side of Linda along with the misguided one, then we may have been able to relate to her in a much more human way. There’s no doubting her recollection of Traynor’s abuse – she even took a polygraph test to prove her claims prior to the release of her autobiography – but there’s not even a hint of her rumoured drug abuse and internal battles which would make for a far more engrossing character.
Upon leaving the cinema I felt much more forgiving to the film, but as time has passed, none of the characters have really made much of a lasting impression, nor have I been pondering any of the questions which I feel I should be. Having said that, the film looks good and is scattered with some very solid performances including Sharon Stone as Linda’s mother who’s wigged up and made-down in such a way you’ll hardly recognise her.
Lovelace is an enjoyable 95 minutes, which will have you thoroughly interested the whol e time you’re watching it, but doesn’t have the required staying-power to be anything more than an entertaining recollection of a story many people will already be familiar with.