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In 1972 before the internet, before the porn explosion Deep Throat was a phenomenon: the first scripted pornographic theatrical feature film, featuring a story, some jokes, and an unknown and unlikely star, Linda Lovelace. Escaping a strict religious family, Linda discovered freedom and the high-life when she fell for and married charismatic hustler Chuck Traynor. As Linda Lovelace, she became an international sensation-less centerfold fantasy than a charming girl-next-door with an impressive capacity for fellatio. After struggling to break free from Traynor whose endless abuse nearly killed her, Linda made it her life's mission to fight violence against women.
Special Features: Behind Lovelace
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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.
Though the era is recreated fairly well, more attention could have been paid to the spirit of the times--the sexual revolution and showing why Deep Throat was such a hit with mainstream audiences.
Linda's character, a wide eyed innocent, remains the same until the final minutes when we fast forward to the 1980's and the Donahue show. Peter Sarsgaard as Linda's sleazy husband does nothing that Eric Roberts didn't do better thirty years earlier in Star 80; James Franco is woefully miscast as High Hefner, while Azaria, Noth and Mazar are just about perfect in their roles--though lacking in depth and development.
Amanda Seyfried is as cute as pie and charming but gave a much more powerful performance as the young call girl in Cloe while Sharon Stone is surprisingly good as Linda's repressed, bitter and cold mother.
I say, skip it, and see the marvelously well done Boogie Nights or Wonderland instead.