PLOT: LOVELACE looks back at the making of the legendary porno DEEP THROAT through the eyes of the film’s star, Linda Lovelace. During her early years after leaving her family and getting involved with her husband Chuck Traynor, the one-time actress was reportedly placed in one abusive situation after another. Years later she was finally able to escape and speak out against the porn industry.
My oh my porn has changed over the years. There was a time when you either had to leave the house and sneak into a dirty little theatre, or years later put on a VHS tape. Nowadays of course you can click on any old website, drop your trousers and whack away. Yet in the Seventies, there was a little film that had everybody talking, and not just men looking to get off. Back in 1972 Linda Lovelace caused quite the commotion with her shockingly funny portrayal of a woman with a special place deep down in her you know where in the classic porno DEEP THROAT. If you haven’t discovered this gem of a flick yet, you might want to look it up. Or else you can check out the lovely Amanda Seyfried playing this once queen of porn in the new feature LOVELACE.
In this biographical film, we are introduced to a young woman named Linda Boreman who was living with her very strict mother (Sharon Stone) and father (Robert Patrick). One day a strange and intriguing fellow by the name of Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) shows up and begins to gravitate toward this New York born plain-Jane type beauty. Soon the suave “gentleman” wins over her parents and the two become a couple. The closer they get the more Linda discovers about her beau, as well Chuck discovers that his new gal has a very special skill… She can go down on a guy like nobody’s business. With this raw talent, he convinces a producer to feature the upcoming actress in a new porno, appropriately titled DEEP THROAT.
If you are unfamiliar with the name Linda Lovelace - Boreman’s professional name - her story has become something of a legend. Throughout her relationship with Traynor she was reportedly abused and wallowed in drugs and violence having to do a number of things to support his wicked tendencies. In LOVELACE, directed by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, we see the event from Linda’s prospective. It is a fine line between the almost tragic circumstances of Linda’s rise to fame and the slightly upbeat tone in which the film presents it. For every scene that investigates what this poor woman went through, there is a slight element of pop culture whimsy that comes to play. This fairy tale like storytelling seems to lessen the impact of Linda’s story. It would have been interesting to see more of the years where Boreman denounced the adult film-making business and became a major face in the anti-pornography movement.
As Linda Boreman, Amanda Seyfried ably portrays the lighthearted innocence of an innocent girl thrust into a dark and seedy world. She captures the beauty and yes, even the strength that Linda must have had to survive such a dramatic turn of events - at least according to the events portrayed in the film. There is something shockingly pure about Ms. Seyfried which is all the more fascinating as she quite often takes on such risky roles, including this and Atom Egoyan’s sexually charged 2009 film CHLOE. In many ways this film presents her younger years as a coming of age story where she literally grows up and discovers how powerful sex can be and the consequences it sometimes reveals.
As good a performance as Seyfried gives, there are two actors that stand out even more than the leading lady in question. It took a moment before I realized that Linda’s mother was actually Sharon Stone in a brown curly-haired wig and a churchgoing wardrobe, but the voice gave it away. She is certainly very credible as a woman who would tell her daughter that if she is being abused, it is probably her own fault and she clearly isn’t pleasing her husband properly. What a great scene that was! And speaking of an abusive husband, Sarsgaard once again gives a fantastic turn as the sleazy Traynor who – depending on how truthful this movie bio actually is – would sell his own wife for drug money. He is terrific in the role and when he is charming, you better believe he pulls it off. You could say he is equally believable when he sinks into his darker moments.
The problem with LOVELACE is that for such a controversial and equally enthralling subject, it falls short of the passionate impact that it should. Running just around an hour and a half, LOVELACE wanders along the early stages of her career and jumps back and forth without creating much of an emotional punch. This is one hell of a story, yet it doesn’t quite reach the dramatic tension that say BOOGIE NIGHTS had done so wonderfully before. Even still as a cinematic flashback to a more promiscuous time, there is enough here to warrant a further look into this part of history and even revisit the cult hit DEEP THROAT just to see what all the fuss was about. Or better yet, you could check out the documentary INSIDE DEEP THROAT which is currently available on Netflix streaming at press time. With good performances and an easy to digest run time, LOVELACE is a decent cinematic escape that could have been so much more.
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