Lovelace (2013)

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Movie Review
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Lovelace (2013)

Directors: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Noth, Robert Patrick, Sharon Stone, Juno Temple

Use of the phrase “I liked it better the first time…” in regards to a movie like “Lovelace” wouldn’t be telling the whole truth. Never mind that this sort of tale has been told before. Any movie that deals with the mental and physical abuse of a woman by her husband who is using her as his own personal meal ticket is not the kind of movie that is pleasing to the eyes. You can appreciate the performances, marvel at the set designs that scream 1970’s and the makeup that allows at least one of the actors to disappear into their role. But the ugliness that lies beneath the glitz and glamour is too cringe-worthy to ignore.

In 1970, Linda Boreman, the woman who the world would come to know as Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) is discovered at a roller skating rink by future husband Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Chuck presents himself as charming and sweet, even after revealing to her his hobby of filming porno and getting busted on prostitution charges. Eventually, he convinces Linda to audition at a porn studio. There he shows the producers a film he shot of her performing oral sex, which lands her the lead role in “Deep Throat,” the most famous of all porn films.

“Lovelace” is presented in a non-linear format. As a result, aside from her repressive upbringing with which she was in constant rebellion, the early portion of the movie seems to present Linda as someone happy with her life and the career she has made for herself. Once the veil is lifted, we are shown the darker, truer side of the same events. Linda’s porno career only lasted the seventeen days it took to film “Deep Throat.” During that time, however, she is battered and forced into prostitution at gunpoint by Chuck. She tries to escape the life by running home, only to be turned away by her mother (Sharon Stone), who insists that divorce is wrong and that it is the duty of a wife to obey her husband. Linda’s mother is angered when she is accused of not understanding. She made her own mistakes as a youth, but she has no concept of the horrors her daughter is really going through.

At 93 minutes, “Lovelace” barely has enough time to scratch the surface of Lovelace’s life story. Being a low-budget movie with a limited theatrical release, it’s not all that surprising that much of it looks like something you’d find on the Lifetime TV network. In addition, James Franco is completely miscast as Hugh Hefner (who would have been in his late 40’s at the time). Despite this, Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard and Sharon Stone all give great performances… in particular Stone, whom you’d have to see her name in the credits to believe it is her.

A similarly-themed, more disturbing and overall better movie is Bob Fosse’s “Star 80.” Made in 1983, it depicts the tragedy of Dorothy Stratten, the 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year-turned-film actress. Like Lovelace, Stratten saw both her life and career controlled by her husband. Unlike Stratten, Lovelace at least was able to escape from the prison of her relationship alive. Amanda Seyfried in “Lovelace” and Mariel Hemingway of “Star 80” are equally deserving of praise. Both movies also have Eric Roberts (who played Paul Snider in “Star 80”) in common. Due to their dark nature, neither is a movie that one can feel much desire to revisit once they are finished.


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