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LOVELACE (review)

lovelace-1LOVELACE
Written by Andy Bellin
Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Starring Amanda Seyfried and Peter Saarsgard
 

Linda Boreman: God forbid there are women out there going through what I went through.

There are countless controversial tales surrounding the real story of Linda Boreman, better known by her screen name, Linda Lovelace. A simple search on the internet will give you endless contradicting stories about her marriage to Chuck Traynor and her involvement in one of the most well known pornographic films ever made, “Deep Throat”. Whether you’ve seen it or not, you’ve probably at least heard of it. It’s a cheesy, poorly acted 70’s porn flick, that grossed millions in revenue and is widely regarded as one of the first porn films to actually have a plot, thus forever changing the industry. After her somewhat short stint in porn, Lovelace denounced the industry altogether (a la Bettie Page) and wrote “Ordeal” in 1980. The process of telling that story is the basis for LOVELACE, a new film about the life of the famed star, from directors, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (HOWL).

Amanda Seyfried stars as the 21-year-old Linda, living with her conservative parents (Sharon Stone and Patrick Robert) in Florida. After a night out of rollerskating with her best friend Polly (Juno Temple), they meet Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), who quickly woos Linda. Their relationship, full of sexual exploration for Linda, is not without its troubles, of course, as Chuck’s temper and financial issues begin to make themselves known. Regardless, the two are eventually married and they move to New York City, where Chuck decides to get Linda into adult films. She is recognized for a certain bedroom talent and thus begins the filming of the aptly titled “Deep Throat”.

As Linda’s rise to stardom begins, so rises Chuck’s temper, which has already manifested itself in violent ways towards Linda. Sadly, like so many in her situation, she makes excuses to her friends, and endures the abuse. As she starts to get media attention from the likes of men’s magazine mogul, Hugh Hefner (James Franco), her world begins to crumble. She is forced into prostitution to satisfy Chuck’s sick mind, drug addiction and financial troubles. As she reaches out to her family for help, she is turned away, and everyone who can see what is going on, including the police, care more about her porn star status than her very real personal issues. Linda is forced to remove herself from all of it in order to save her own life, choosing to expose the industry, and her husband, for what they really are.

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For audience members hoping to get a peek at “Deep Throat”, you’re in for a disappointment. No footage from that film is ever shown, possibly because Linda herself condemned the movie, claiming that her “performance” was actually in fact rape at gun point. Maybe we should be happy then that there aren’t any clips of it in LOVELACE. The scenes are recreated well enough though to satisfy most people’s curiosity about the film. It’s a little like HITCHCOCK in that sense, a movie about making a movie that somehow managed to never once show a single clip from PSYCHO.

LOVELACE is an excellent example of a story where things aren’t quite what they seem. The narrative is fairly straight forward; however there are a few times when the action annoyingly cuts back in time to show the same scene from a different perspective. Any viewer with a head on their shoulders can figure out what was actually happening, since we already have most of the information, without having to have each side spelled out to them. This technique seems to be added more so to extend the running time than to surprise the audience with the truth.

The performances are nothing short of outstanding, especially Seyfried in the title role. Her New York accent and sun freckled cheeks are certianly convincing but, more importantly, her performance is probably one of her most mature to date. I’ve been a long time fan of her work (I’ve forgiven her for MAMMA MIA) and she seems to have captured the pain and misunderstanding that Linda Boreman exudes in interviews and in her books. Whether you believe the stories or not, Seyfried’s performance will make you believe in her as an actress.

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Aside from Seyfried’s captivating presence, there are two other performances that try, and almost succeed in stealing the limelight. Stone as Linda’s religious conservative mother gives her best performance in years. The sadness and guilt she portrays on screen towards the end of the movie is chilling, something I never thought I would find myself saying about her acting. As angering as her character is throughout the film, Stone’s performance is always devastating. And if Sarsgaard doesn’t win an award somewhere in the world for “Best Villain” then there is something seriously wrong in the universe. His creepy, slimy portrayal of a terribly messed up man is not only cringeworthy, but once he gets under your skin, he stays there.

LOVELACE deals with sensitive and important issues of domestic abuse and forced prostitution. The nudity shown on screen isn’t titalating. In fact, most of the sex scenes are uncomfortable to watch, since we know what is really going on behind the acts themselves. Directors Epstein and Friedman do not shy away from showing the harsh reality of abuse either, which some people may find disturbing. If Linda’s accounts are even remotely true, LOVELACE becomes an important film to see. People should know what she went through instead of just what they think they know of her from the movies.

4

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Lovelace?

 

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