Craig's First Take: "Lovelace"
on 2013-08-13 09:35
Fantasy and reality clash in “Lovelace”, the dramatization of porn star Linda Lovelace’s (real name: Linda Boreman) ordeal (the name of her book) during and after the filming of “Deep Throat.” I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Being of the DVD generation however, I am unaware if it’s been preserved on Blu-ray yet or not. And its perhaps this movie’s true power that if you do end up seeing the porn film, it will be hard to watch without feeling just a little guilty.
Amanda Seyfried gives what I would say is her best performance as Linda, the sexually-repressed daughter of strict parents (Robert Patrick, an unrecognizable Sharon Stone). A night of hanging out with a friend puts her, like a deer, into the headlights of Chuck Traynor (Peter Saarsgard). Saarsgard is fantastic here, showing a charm that masks a slithery bottom-feeder. Her involvement with him leads to a falling out with her parents, and when he needs money, Chuck brings her to the attention of two sleazy porn producers (Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria) who at first bristle at her ordinariness before seeing a video Traynor makes showcasing her “throat talent.”
Rob Epstein, whose documentary on Harvey Milk was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, and Jeffrey Friedman, who worked with Epstein on the Alan Ginsberg film “Howl”, along with writer Andy Bellin, give us a funny first half (Chuck tells us he expected to see subtitles during “The French Connection”, the “Deep Throat” shoot is ridiculous fun) that, much like a porn, avoids serious concerns for a good-time. But by the second half, the burgeoning sexual freedom of the character in “Deep Throat” lies in serious contrast to the real-life woman.
Beginning the film with an innocence, effervescent likability, and willingness to please, Seyfried takes us through Linda’s emotions far better than Bellin’s episodic script ever can. We feel her isolation, fear, and trauma as the abuse, humiliation, and injustice continue. Same goes for Robert Patrick and Sharon Stone as her parents. Stone’s “always stand by your man” diatribe and Patrick’s “I saw the movie” heartbreak are heart-in-your-throat good.
You just wish Bellin’s script were less Lifetime movie and more “Linda”, showing us more of what happened after “Deep Throat” became a success and how she managed to get her life back after escaping Traynor. But “Lovelace” makes good on its promise of revealing unsettling truths and this cast is way too good to pass up.