Let me state upfront that I, like most people, have heard of Linda Lovelace, but I knew next to nothing about her, other than she starred in "Deep Throat" (which I haven't seen) over 40 years ago. But this movie made quite a splash when it was first screened earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, and I couldn't wait to see it. Now the movie is finally out, both in theatres and on VOD.
"Lovelace" (2013 release; 93 min.) starts in 1970 when we get to meet Linda (played by Amanda Seyfried), living at home with her ultra-strict parents (played by Robert Patrick and Sharon Stone). Linda gets to know Chuck (played by Peter Sarsgaard) and they hit it off. It's not long before Linda moves in with him (and eventually marries him), but it's equally not long before Chuck, in desperate need of money, is getting Linda involved in shady things, leading to what eventually would become "Deep Throat" (for which she was paid $1,250). But the problems with Chuck run much deeper than that. At some point Linda flees back to her parents' house, hoping to stay just a few days, when mom coldly turns her away with "you married Chuck, you must obey him". To tell you more would surely ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first and foremost, this movie is a performers' dream as there are so many choice roles, and most of them relish the challenge and run with it. Let's start with Amanda Seyfried as the title character: her days on "As The World Turns" and "All My Children", and even "Mean Girls" are long gone! Seyfried really surprised me with this role. And then there is Peter Sarsgaard, who must have salivated at the opportunity to play the challenging role of Chuck, as unlikeable character as you'll ever meet. Sarsgaard does it brilliantly. But top honors must go (in my book anyway) to Sharon Stone as Linda's mother. If I hadn't known beforehand that Stone was in this role, I would've never recognized her. This may be the very best performance of her career, period. There are tons of other notable performers in this movie (James Franco gets about 5 min. of screen time as Hugh Hefner; Hank Azaria; Chris Noth; and Chloë Sevigny in a blink it and you'll miss it appearance, just to name those). I often think that movies run too long, but in this case it is the opposite, as it feels in particular the latter years are skimped over too quickly. Last but not least, there is a delight soundtrack, mostly early 70s FM staples but also some lesser known nuggets, and it complements the film perfectly. One final note: there is some nudity in the movie but given the subject matter, there could've been lots more.
"Lovelace" showed up at my local art-house theatre this past weekend here in Cincinnati. I saw it at a recent matinee, and I had a private showing, as in: I was literally the only one in the theatre. It makes me think that this will not play long, which is unfortunate, as this is a good, if at times difficult, movie, with brilliant performances. If you are in the mood for a quality indie movie that is miles away from your standard Hollywood fare, "Lovelace" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
on September 23, 2013
"I spent exactly 17 days in the pornography industry and somehow these 17 days are supposed to define who I am for the rest of my life, but I hope that people can see me for who I really am." Linda Boreman (Seyfried) is a normal teenager in the sixties. She is a little naive and sheltered but nothing too extreme. When she meets a man named Chuck Traynor (Saragaard) he promises to take care of her and give her what she wants. Happy to be out of her parents house she gets married and things are looking up. When Chuck gets her a job she thinks its going to be fantastic. Little by little her life is taken away from her, then one day she fights back. This is first and foremost NOT a movie about pornography. This is a movie about a woman who becomes manipulated and controlled by a man she trusted and her fight to get someone to help her. While Seyfried does a good job in this it's nothing Oscar worthy but she does play it in a way that makes the movie very depressing and you really feel for her and want her to make it out. I could keep going on about this and many people won't watch just because they think it's something it isn't, but this is worth watching and a real women's lib type movie. Overall, if you liked Boogie Nights you will like this. I give it a B.
on December 15, 2013
Forcefully directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman based on the book, "Ordeal", written by Linda herself, is the story of a woman who spent years paying publicly and personally for her short-lived (basically, 17 days by her admission) time in the world of pornography. Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) started out a naive teenager. The freckle-faced 'girl next door' who met up with the wrong man, Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), a sweet talking, attention giving parasite with dollar signs in his eyes at first sight of her. He quickly schmoozes Linda from her strict upbringing with her mother (Sharon Stone) and father (Robert Patrick) to an all-out freedom that she doesn't know about or what to expect from life in the 1970's.
The two quickly marry in what appears to be the first part of the movie which looks to play out in two halves. During this telling part we learn the very succinct tale of Linda taking the porn industry by storm with the movie "Deep Throat". Chuck is questionably in charge of everything; Behind changing her name to 'Lovelace', The Producer, Anthony (Chris Noth), Director, Gerry (Frank Azaria) and co-stars, Debi Mazar and Adam Brody. An overly eager crew of pornographers shows a very misleading lifestyle of which I found lacking any real dubiousness (everything being just a matter of fact). I wouldn't have thought this type of business was so aloof and quite business at hand. Everybody seemed happy enough, sometimes even jovial, and mainly all get along except for Chuck, who is growing more disgruntled and angrily controlling. Even Hugh Hefner (James Franco) is a good friend to Linda, especially in a private screening of the movie as they introduce it to an adoring crowd and then to the masses.
After a six year jump in time it appears as a retelling of the first half. The former situations begin to realistically reveal themselves. It is now in all this turbulence that Linda's bruises start to show both emotionally and physically. From the very start of their marriage, Chuck has been severely abusing drugs, but even more harsh, horribly abusing Linda. The more she tries to protest, the more things spiral downward. There isn't anyone there to aid her within a business on the take, a huge money making venue that she has become the object of. There is even a heartbreaking moment when her own mother turns her beaten daughter away with the cruel words concerning Chuck, "Obey Him". He used her to pay off his debts from their beginning resulting in the movie, which brought her great fame, although not wealth. Chuck's jealousy, anger, and inability to control himself results in an indescribable entrapment of Linda. This provides a portrait of depravity showing the lengths he did go to using his wife.
Several clips are inserted within the film; a news report from Walter Cronkite, a couple Johnny Carson Show jokes, a quip from Bob Hope, and The Phil Donahue Show where Linda has some time to speak from her side of things. This was a huge 'event' in the '70's when this movie hit the screen, evidently the first of its kind. The soundtrack (Stephen Trask) adds the popular music of the day and underscores everything interestingly. Adding the photography (Eric Edwards) brings you right back to that decade with its clothing, styling, decor, and lighting. Seyfried and Sarsgaard both are amazing portraying these two very genuine roles, one the completely helpless victim and the other an intolerable monster. Also, a very limited but heart-tugging father role is sentimentally given by Patrick. I certainly understood this movie being much less about pornography and so much more about domestic violence in a 'look the other way' world.
Remember that movie ‘Howl’, the one that was supposed to net James Franco an Oscar? Yeah, I don’t either. I mean, I remember it only because it had that early-hype due to subject and actor, but I never saw it and I really don’t think many people who didn’t stumble into it while it made the festival circuit did either. It was directed by these two guys, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and it got so-so reviews and basically disappeared.
This should have all been a sign.
I remember back in the early months of 2013, when I was considering predictions for the 2013 Oscars (yes, I’m an addict) and a name that I kept flirting with was Amanda Seyfried. She was all over the red carpets for ‘Les Miserables’ and many people were saying that she was breaking through, finally, after years of basically being ignored or taking a backseat. I mean, she technically took a backseat then too, to Anne Hathaway, but she was a red carpet sensation and people were taking notice. Then it was announced that she was going to be playing Linda Lovelace and it just felt like a sign from heaven. Young starlet getting the role of a lifetime playing the most recognizable name in the adult film industry. It doesn’t hurt that that name is attached to a very well-known film and that star was abused in multiple ways by multiple people.
Talk about Oscar bait.
The problem with ‘Lovelace’ is that it lacks any style to make the substance, which is there, feel fresh and exciting. The grungy want that it is filmed (to emulate the porn era) is interesting and then dull at the same time (been there done that) and while the two-fold storytelling (telling the story twice, once glossed over and the second brutally honest) it isn’t enough to give the film the needed umph. The character development is scarce (Look scared Seyfried! Act mean Sarsgaard!) and this dampens the impact that this film, and her life, could have had.
Linda Lovelace was brought up in a strict home and she was a merely curious young woman swept off her feet by a no good man who pretended to be good until he put a ring on her finger and then decided to beat her and sell her out for her body in order to pay his debts. Epstein and Friedman have no visual style or storytelling skills and so the film really feels flat. It doesn’t help that Seyfried’s performance is so bland and uninspired, and this really could have been an undeniable knock out role for her. Sarsgaard fares slightly better, since he has a flashy character, but we’ve seen him play a sleaze MANY times, and he’s done it far better before (this is reminiscent of his turn in ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ except not as fresh or as memorable). Honestly, Chris Noth and Bobby Cannavale are the most memorable presences in this film, and they don’t really do a whole lot except ‘fit’.
Don’t even get me started on James Franco’s TERRIBLE cameo as Hugh Hefner.
At the end of the day, ‘Lovelace’ isn’t offensive or bad as much as it’s pointless, and that’s sad. What is it with all these boring directors getting their hands on baity biopics? I mean, I understand that the biopic is becoming a tired genre, but true auteurs have given such life to these stories in the past. In the right hands, this could have been a grittier, more violent ‘Boogie Nights’, but instead this feels like a Lifetime movie.
on June 23, 2015
Amanda Seyfreid does a very good job of portraying Linda Lovelace, and the hard life she had during her porn years. The supporting cast however is low grade at best. ity appears to be a rather low grade effort, in spite of Seyfried's constant nudity.
on April 26, 2014
During the 80's "Deep Throat" was played at least 50% of the Bachelor parties I was invited to. I did see a movie/Documentary Inside Deep Throat" and from what I remember. there was conflicts in the script from interviews with the original cast members and directors. The producers messed up on the timing of the background music. The film was shot in 1971-1972. Hall and Oats and "BTO" didn't hit the carts until 2 years later. However I am a fan of Amanda Seyfried and I wish her all the best.
on September 2, 2013
This movie is a well crafted documentary relating to the movie deep throat which shows how traditional rigid moral values can be twisted to support an immoral industry which grinds up young people searching for a door to the good life and future. The title is important -- it evokes images of emotional wellbeing and soft beauty -- a target which is forfeited in the hands of non scrupulous human people seeking their own economic well being at the cost of emotional needy younger people.
on January 1, 2014
A little stronger than I generally like, but well-done for the most part. Sorry, I'm not sure Amanda Seyfried was the best choice for this part as Linda, though there are facial similarities, and Amanda actually did a good job. Her body type is different. But as one who has seen and worked with spousal abusers, I felt this was better than Hollywood's usual treatment of such (neutral), without being preachy. It let itself tell the story, and save those of us already traumatized by working with the results of abuse from too graphic of a vid. Still, what they do show is unpleasant. They left out much, but Hollywood often does, telling us we wouldn't be interested. And it paints Linda as a total victim despite briefly showing her willing acceptance, supported by an overly religious (possibly also an abuse victim) mother. So is it great: no. Is it eye-opening: yes, without being overly anything. It reflects a too often seen situation in some relationships (not just marriages) that can be cooperative or victimization. The ignorance of some women (and the men who abuse them) is tragic, especially if they start with low self-esteem. And most teen girls of that time were still in transition to becoming strong individuals (much less "strong women" like many today), and had that normal transition cut short by both culture and being inexperienced. NO ONE should accept that kind of treatment, male or (more commonly still) female. But economic circumstances also can push one to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do, and weak personalities are more susceptible, whether teens or adults. Give your kids confidence and wisdom, not merely discipline. Hard to do these days with both parents working, split families, and inundation with dangerous or failed life strategies from media and peers calculated to intensify their insecurity. Boobs not big enough. Not pretty (handsome) enough. Why can't you buy this? Only the best (by whose opinion?) will do. Don't think, just do. Live for today. Birdshot! Give them the gift of whatever time you can, SHOW them wisdom as best you can, and simply make sure they know you love them, and many fewer Lovelaces will result. A good movie, but strong.
on August 20, 2013
this is a film with excellent acting and noble intentions, and tells an almost mythical tale of a woman's rise and fall and redemption. the astonishing thing is that the story is real, and we're shown the costumes and sets, excerpts from newscasts and television shows, musical hits of the era to prove it. what's sorely missing, however, especially for viewers born after 1970, is a depiction of the historical predicament of women in the years of early feminism. when two police officers interrupt an abusive episode between lovelace and her husband, and she fails to ask for help, one officer actually asks her for her autograph. the scene doesn't read right unless the viewer is aware that the duty of police to intervene in domestic disputes was not established by law at the time and wouldn't seem to the officers the "correct" thing to do; she wouldn't ask for help knowing those facts. worse, there is no reference to contemporary feminist developments, even though the meager plot of "deep throat" turns on its heroine's demand that she enjoy sex as much as men.
without being lurid, the film dissects the depravity of an abusive marriage, the husband alternating between affection and violence. because this is the part of an abused woman's life often hidden from outsiders, the film tells a large arc of the linda lovelace story "from the outside", as served up by the film publicity events, then reprises the key scenes with "the rest of the story" -- how each of them turned violent or degrading or manipulative. a judgmental mother and ineffectual father fail to help her; she doesn't reach out to her closest friends; investors only see her as a product ... which leaves her husband chuck traynor to use her however he pleases. the mystery is why she put up with it so long -- for that you have to look to the expectations placed on her by her mother and her catholic upbringing, the coercion and threats from her husband, the allurements of fame, but most of all her naive compulsion to please and be loved.
the principals are excellent. peter sarsgaard is almost satanic as the slimy, manipulative, cynical and cowardly husband, cruel to his wife and fawning to men with money, and there's a fine supporting cast to play the pygmies of the porn industry. a scene near the end, when lovelace's parents see her phil donohue interview on TV and finally grasp what their daughter has suffered and their complicity in her affliction, is sad and very powerful. amanda seyfried is convincing where innocence and earnestness are called for, and her natural sweetness comes through in many scenes, but lovelace's real pain is fully revealed only once, in a late night plea to her mother for shelter, and it comes before we see much of the abuse she suffers and seems unmotivated as we watch it. (a later rape scene is also presented without sufficient buildup, so it is shocking but less painful to watch than it should be.) at other moments of desperation or despair, seyfried seems bewildered, as if unsure what the two directors wanted from her -- more likely they were unsure themselves, or how they should handle the script. despite all that, seyfried and sarsgaard give gutsy, ambitious and engrossing performances.
on May 29, 2014
This was a really hard movie to watch esp since I married young & stayed w/ a man for 30yrs who was also twisted & abusive. I had no idea what her true story was and I judged her harshly. I blamed ppl like her for fueling my ex husbands sex addiction. This is actually a very important movie for women of all ages to see b/c there are so so many who are quietly suffering abuse, shame, illness & serious PTSD. I feel very lucky to have watched it and only did so b/c I really like Amanda Seyfried. I figured it was going to be about a trashy messed up woman who chose the life she made. It absolutely breaks my heart. But good for her! What courage. And such an inspiration for women everywhere to find their voice!