We all knew the name Linda Lovelace; her name would invariably evoke nervous twitters, derision and laughter. Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman tell the story of Linda Boreman (her real name) a misguided young girl in her early 20’s who is from a dysfunctional working class family in Florida. She falls under the spell of a charismatic dirt bag and wannabe entrepreneur named Chuck Traynor. Boreman’s meteoric rise to become an internationally known celebrity porn star of “Deep Throat” pulls no punches and is at times gruesome to watch.
Amanda Seyfried earns her acting stripes here, her brave no holds barred performance completely sheds her “Les Miz” and “Mamma Mia” good girl image. Peter Sarsgaard plays Chuck with a creepiness that is unsettling throughout. Robert Patrick and an unrecognizable Sharon Stone portray her parents in an imperfect heartbreaking way, walking the line between the simultaneous shame and love they have for their child. Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria, Chris Noth, Adam Brody and Debi Mazar all play their porn posse parts perfectly. James Franco portrays Hugh Hefner in a slick and gross way that the real Hugh will probably not be thrilled with.
The production values, looking low budget, convincingly capture the mood of the time with enhancing costumes, sets and vivid soundtrack. The 93-minute film does gloss over some key points in Linda’s life, some admirable and some not, and gives her a free pass more than it should. And the movie doesn’t settle the question of whether or not Linda was complicit in making “Deep Throat” forced, as she claimed later, against her will.
In the end though, “Lovelace” is a fascinating and sobering film about the horrible choices that people and society choose to make. Her redemptive after porn life is relatively short lived; she marries, has two children and then tragically dies at the young age of 52 from injuries sustained in a car wreck. The fact that “Deep Throat” grossed an estimated $600 million dollars, with only $1250 going to Linda is, surprisingly, the least bothersome aspect of this tortured tale.
(PS Editors note: studios had better figure out better digital delivery systems for reviewers. Vici, a system used for “Lovelace,” failed to work properly. Academy voters are still going to require discs this fall and winter. )