Film Review – Lovelace
Linda Lovelace starred in perhaps the biggest porn movie ever, Deep Throat. The details of her life and what happened to her on- and off-set are less known, and while Lovelace wants to be an expose on these truths, it never knows how to make Linda an interesting person. Instead, we are stuck with the standard biographical film formula that hits all the major events, but does nothing more.
Linda (Amanda Seyfried) is a 21-year-old woman stuck living with her parents, who appear deeply unhappy with her. She hangs out with her friend Patsy (Juno Temple), who is always telling her to loosen up and be less of a prude. Linda seems to catch a break when she meets Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard), a guy who seems into her and treats her well. After they move in together and are low on cash, Chuck has an idea that Linda would be great for the film industry, due to her technique on going down on him. She and her film are a hit, and everything seems to be going well…then we cut back and see what else is behind this success.
Events move fast as we jump ahead months or even years in time in Linda’s life. But we are given so little information about her that when things are supposed to be different, she feels the same. She tells Chuck that she gave birth to a child and gave it up and that is why her family moved to Florida. However, it is never mentioned again or shown how this affects her. Her relationship with her parents is limited to her mother being disappointed in her and overbearing and her dad being a nonentity. While this gives us the reason that Chuck seems to be a good alternative, as a narrative, it all seems too glossed over.
The film wants to get into Linda’s life with Chuck and with her being in Deep Throat, where it thinks the meat of the story is. We see the attention and adoration she gets for being in Deep Throat, but then the film jumps back in time to show the dark underside of her marriage, which boils down to a bombardment of the terrible things Chuck did to her. While this does paint a picture of the great deal of control he had over her and gives us a sense of her being trapped, it never makes Linda Lovelace feel like a distinct human being.
None of this is the fault of Amanda Seyfried, who is not bad. But she is limited in what she is allowed to do with her role. She smiles pretty, acts “bad” in the porn scenes, and plays the terrified trapped woman, with the terror in her eyes and the fake smiles. Yet beyond these looks, the sense of who this woman is never becomes any clearer. Additionally, Peter Sarsgaard plays dark well, but it is one-note. He is just a monster over and over again, serving as something for us to hate and little else.
Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman make a point about how little money Lovelace made from being in Deep Throat, and that she later became an advocate against pornography and got her life back together. The problem is that we are told about this but never shown how she did it or what made her make these changes. In fact, we see many times how her producers and co-workers were helpful to her, and it is Chuck that is the focus of all that goes wrong with her. It is entirely possible that she was mistreated on the set and robbed of her money, yet these details are never given any real time to be explored.
Lovelace wants to be a reflection of one woman’s life, how she overcomes a horrible marriage, and a lifestyle she was forced to live, but it glosses over too much to be meaningful. Linda Lovelace says in an interview that she was in porn for seventeen days and she doesn’t want it to define her life. Yet even with a film that seems sympathetic to her, the only thing they have to tell us about is her life in porn. This makes for an unsatisfying viewing experience that fills in some details about this woman’s life but never gets into what made her who she was and who she became.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPJY-g-WoQo&w=560&h=315]