Rated: R (strong sexual content, language, thematic elements, and brief smoking)
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: August 9, 2013
Directed by: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Genre: Biography, Drama
Stars: 3 out of 5
“Lovelace” (watch trailer) is a biopic of Linda Lovelace, nee Linda Susan Boreman, who became famous after starring in the pornographic film “Deep Throat” in 1972. At the time, porn films were publicly advertised and featured lengthy plots and decent acting. Although “Deep Throat” grossed over six million dollars, Linda only earned $1,250 for her role, which her husband withheld from her. Linda endured further abuse and manipulation by her husband, Chuck Traynor, but eventually escaped his grasp.
The story of her life is directed by Oscar-winning filmmakers, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. The two men are long-time collaborators and best known for their documentaries. In the beginning of the movie, Linda, played by Amanda Seyfried, is portrayed as a fairly typical teenager living in a religious working-class household. At the age of twenty-one, she starts dating a charismatic bar owner named Chuck Traynor, played by Peter Sarsgaard, whom she later marries. After their marriage, Linda learns that Chuck prostitutes women, and he tells her he is indebted to the IRS and in trouble with the Miami Police Department. Linda is worried about their finances and is forced to bail Chuck out of jail, so she agrees to star in a pornographic film at her husband’s behest.
When “Deep Throat” hits the mainstream, Linda suddenly becomes a poster girl for women’s liberation. Linda seems to be a cheerful person living out a dream in the first half of the film, but when the movie cuts to flashbacks of her life with Chuck, the audience sees she is actually suffering brutal physical and sexual abuse at his hands. Chuck deals in and uses cocaine, and he prostitutes Linda to strangers.
Before filming begins on “Deep Throat,” Linda tries to leave Chuck by fleeing to her mother’s house, but her mother refuses to give her asylum. Linda reveals the extent of the abuse and begs to be allowed to stay, but her mother implies that the abuse is Linda’s fault and admonishes her to go home and obey her husband. Chuck controls every aspect of Linda’s life, even keeping the money she earns. He attempts to use her fame to build himself up, and despite his marketing schemes to profit from Linda’s success, he becomes indebted to the filmmakers of “Deep Throat” to the tune of $25,000.
Desperate for money, Chuck allows a group of men to rape his wife and accepts payment for delivering her to them. After this, Linda tries to run away from her husband. He chases her and throws her to the pavement. A police car drives up as Chuck is looming over his wife’s prone body. The police recognize Linda, and instead of asking for an explanation, they ask for her autograph and drive away. Linda’s situation seems impossible, and she has no one to turn to for help. She later meets with one of the makers of “Deep Throat,” Anthony Romano, to discuss the money her husband owes. Upon seeing the film star’s bruised and scabbed appearance, Romano resolves to help Linda escape her abusive marriage.
Linda Lovelace and the movie, “Deep Throat,” remain well known today, and many people have read the four autobiographies Linda has published. In the film, Linda passes a polygraph test set up by the publishers of her book, “Ordeal,” upon which “Lovelace” is based. In reality, however, there was much debate as to the accuracy of her autobiographies. For instance, Linda claims “Deep Throat” is the only porn film she was ever involved with. However, she also starred in a series of short porn clips, one of which involved bestiality, before the famous movie and took roles in two feature-length films afterward, including “Deep Throat II.” “Lovelace” stars an accomplished cast, and the acting is superb. Seyfried and Sarsgaard are convincing, covering a range of emotions beautifully. Sharon Stone is impressive as Linda’s mother, a role that strips her of any glamor, rendering her barely recognizable.
Other actors in “Lovelace” include Chris Noth as Anthony Romano, Robert Patrick as Linda’s father, Bobby Cannavale as Butchie Peraino, Juno Temple as Linda’s best friend, and Hank Azaria in the role of Gerry Damiano. Chloe Sevigny plays the part of a reporter. Epstein and Friedman do a good job of portraying the sex and brutality with non-graphic scenes, which adds to the movie. The movie sums up Linda’s life to the point of her death at the age of 53 in a car accident succinctly but satisfactorily, with a major focus on portraying Linda’s marriage and struggles.