WRITTEN BY: Andy Bellin
DIRECTED BY: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
STARRING: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Noth, Sharon Stone, James Franco, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, Bobby Cannavale
RATING: 3 stars
I really wanted to love this film. Amanda Seyfried gives such a brave performance as Linda Lovelace in a film that tells the shocking story of one of the world's most famous porn stars. Yet, the film also disappointed me in many ways, not least of which was its melodrama. Lovelace's life story is dramatic enough - it did not need to be made to feel like a soap opera. The film was good, but it could have been so much better.
The film is less about the porn industry and the story of how Deep Throat was created - although those things are covered - and more about Linda's abusive marriage to Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Told through flashbacks and re-flashbacks, the story chronicles Linda's life in the 70's when she lived under the strict roof of her mother (Sharon Stone) until Chuck sweeps her off her feet. After they are married, his true personality is revealed and Chuck begins physically abusing her. He also forces Linda into prostitution and the porn industry. Years later, Linda writes an autobiography about her experiences.
There are moments in this film that will leave you horrified at the extent of the abuse such as when Chuck forces his wife into prostituting herself with a group of men to earn some money to level a debt. The scene when Linda's mother asks her what she did to make Chuck angry enough to hit her is also a heartbreaking moment between mother and daughter. The film suggests Linda was a victim of the time, being forced to obey her husband no matter how he treated her. Obviously, the film was written with Linda's autobiography providing the inspiration, but that means Chuck is at times represented as more like a monster than a man. It is a biased story.
Lovelace has a raft of cameos from actors including Hank Azaria and Bobby Cannavale who play porn film makers, and James Franco who plays Playboy creator Hugh Hefner. All are good, but their roles are so small that they are hardly memorable. Chris Noth has a slightly bigger role as a producer who is kind to Linda. Adam Brody has the funniest small role as Linda's co-star in Deep Throat. Stone was almost unrecognisable as Linda's overbearing mother and she was in fine form. But the film really belonged to Seyfried and Sarsgaard - both of whom were powerful even with the weak script. You could only imagine how much better they could have been with some better dialogue. Still, Seyfried in particular endured some emotional and violent scenes, and she did a great job with the character.
If you think Lovelace is going to be a sexy film about the porn industry, think again. It is brutal, raw and heartbreaking.