The controversial '70s porn starlet gets a full scale white-wash in this bizarre, lopsided biopic.
Pornography attained its first high-priestess in the form of Linda Lovelace when, in 1972, she displayed the gymnastic capabilities of her gag reflex to all the world as star of crossover bongo mega-hit, Deep Throat.
In an unlikely, but actually rather poignant casting coup, it’s happy-clappy family favourite Amanda Seyfried who steps into the kinky boots and spangled kaftan of this de facto adult icon, and aside from the admirable control and dedication of her performance, her presence cleverly emphasises the film’s central theme of corrupted innocence.
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s follow-up to loose-leaf Allen Ginsberg biog Howl examines the Lovelace phenomenon via her slap-happy relationship with titty-bar-proprietor-turned-wannabe-XXX-mogul, Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Playing out over a dual timespan, the film offers a removed version of events which appears to suggest that Lovelace had no bones with engaging in all manner of sexual acts on camera and that Traynor himself was something of a cretin and buffoon. Then at a key moment, the film doubles back and replays events from a different, darker perspective.
Aside from Seyfried’s impressive central turn, Lovelace is unsubtle and disjointed, its innovative switchback narrative method crashes and burns as it simply reveals details which were clearly apparent from the initial sweep. Andy Bellin’s script is also entirely uncritical of Lovelace, presenting her as a helpless, freckled faun caught in the multiple crosshairs of abuse, blackmail and enforced licentiousness.
The happy, empowering ending wholly rejects notions that Lovelace just might have participated in these films of her own volition. And while the names may not be the same, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights tells this exact same story but with genuine wit and verve.
Porn’s first lady goes under the microscope.
Seyfried gives all she’s got, but Epstein and Friedman don’t push her hard enough.
Moralising anti-porn tract rather than ambiguous life story of a true enigma.