It’s not an exaggeration to say that Linda Lovelace was one of the most famous porn stars of the 70s and that even today, thanks to the success of Deep Throat, she’s synonymous with the sexual revolution of the time. Unsurprisingly hers is a story, which Hollywood has deemed worthy of a biopic and so Lovelace is born; the story of the adult film star whose rise to fame was much more complicated than it appeared.
Although Lovelace is obviously centred around the release of Deep Throat, as Linda said herself she actually only spent 17 days in the porn industry and the film focuses more on the abusive relationship she had with husband Chuck Traynor. The fact that years later, when Linda came to write her real life account of what happened, her publishers demanded she pass a polygraph test shows how warped public opinion of her was at the time.
Conveying this juxtaposition between popular opinion and what actually happened was never going to be easy but directing duo Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein decided on a simple plan; to first tell her story how it appeared, and to then show the reality of it. Although it’s obvious from the beginning that not everything is right with Linda’s entry into the porn industry, the extra scenes that slowly start to appear while watching the events for the second time keep Lovelace engaging and prevent it from feeling stale.
Amanda Seyfried shows how powerful an actress she is in the title role, distancing herself from her previous, more predictable films like Mamma Mia and Red Riding Hood, but it’s Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband Chuck Traynor who really steals the show. His performance is such that you’re taken in by his charm along with Amanda Seyfried, and later are stunned as his more dangerous side emerges. They are joined by Sharon Stone, who is unrecognisable as Linda’s hard-nosed Mother, as well as Juno Temple, Adam Brody, James Franco and many more well known names who all give spectacular performances.
Given the subject material there’s obviously some nudity in Lovelace but for those hoping to see Amanda Seyfried... performing, you’ll be disappointed. Neither the sex nor the violence is graphic and it doesn’t need to be. In one sense the film is more of a psychological thriller, where waiting for the abuse you know is coming often feels worse than actually seeing it happen.
After watching Lovelace there’s little doubt that Linda’s real life account was correctly titled Ordeal. A barrel of laughs this film is not (although there are definitely some funny moments during the ‘filming’ of Deep Throat) but it would a shame to let the dark subject material stop you from going to see this powerful, hard-hitting and yes, extremely entertaining film.