MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
Amanda Seyfried as LINDA
Peter Sarsgaard as CHUCK
Sharon Stone as DOROTHY BOREMAN
Robert Patrick as JOHN BOREMAN
Juno Temple as PATSY
Chris Noth as ANTHONY ROMANO
Bobby Cannavale as BUTCHIE PERAINO
Hank Azaria as GERRY DAMIANO
Adam Brody as HARRY REEMS
Studio: Anchor Bay
Directed by: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
BY KEVIN CARR
My first introduction to Linda Lovelace was when I found an old copy of “Playboy” in my dad’s bookcase. The magazine featured a pictorial of Lovelace for her failed “Deep Throat” follow-up “Linda Lovelace for President.” I, of course, knew nothing of her real story or the sexual politics surrounding the film and her persona. All I saw was boobs and a furkini.
Years later, after learning about who Linda Lovelace was, I realized the context in which I flipped through that magazine. By the time I had found it, Lovelace had distanced herself from pornography and had disappeared from the pop culture world. However, I now realize that what I saw was in the aftermath of the story told in the film “Lovelace.” It is that context that actually made the film have less of an impact on me.
More on that later. First, let’s look at what this movie is about. “Lovelace” is a rocky biopic about the infamous porn star from the 70s. The movie starts off with Linda (Amanda Seyfried) as a repressed teenager at her parents’ house. We see her whirlwind and dangerous relationship with Chuck Traynor (Pater Sarsgaard), her rise to adult film fame and the revelation of the abuse and terror she faced in her personal life.
This is not the first film to try to wrap the mainstream brain around porno chic from the 70s and 80s. However, it doesn’t nearly have the brilliance and allure of the gold standard of that type of movie, “Boogie Nights.” Instead, “Lovelace” is more along the lines of “Rated X” (about Marilyn Chambers and her “Behind the Green Door” directors), “Wonderland” (about John Holmes) or even “Auto Focus” (about Bob Crane).
This is an unsteady tightrope to walk across, and “Lovelace” stumbles as many of these other films do. It starts of glamorizing the industry and ends shaming it. There’s very little middle ground in all this. What makes a film like “Boogie Nights” (which is admittedly fiction but still a work of genius) work is that it presents the industry as an industry. There are good people in it, and there are bad people in it. There are plenty of shakes of gray.
In a strange way, “Lovelace” sexualizes star Amanda Seyfried, who has done nude scenes before but I’ll admit generates interest by being in a film like this. Seyfried, though, is the best part of the movie. Her girl-next-door quality is great for the character, even if she’s not entirely the embodiment of the harder-edged Lovelace. Peter Sarsgaard done a fine job as Traynor, but his unpleasant nature is laid on too thick, especially at the beginning. There’s little sympathy to be had because he comes across as a stained-through sleaze-bag from the moment you see him.
However, the biggest strike against “Lovelace” is the overly biased nature about the film. I understand that movies based on true stories take plenty of liberties, but if those liberties can be blown apart with a five-minute visit to Wikipedia, they went too far.
In the end, there’s so much left out of the life of Linda Lovelace and what she went through – particularly when she turned her back on the industry following the success of “Deep Throat.” It is those years in which she made her appearance in my personally famous issue of my dad’s “Playboy” promoting “Linda Lovelace for President” that is completely left out of the picture.
See, I had a point to my boobie ogling story from earlier.
“Lovelace” comes with scant special features, and it would have been better served with more background material that, at the very least, filled in some of the gaps in the film’s narrative. Instead, it’s just a “Behind Lovelace” featurette that is in essence a puff piece about the production itself.