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Lovelace (2013)

| August 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Let’s face it, the world wasn’t exactly missing a biopic about Linda Lovelace, the  former actress who made her immortality in 1972 by becoming the star of “Deep  Throat” the most profitable adult film in the history of the medium. Digging around in the trash of a celebrity has a certain level of titillation, but it’s no more necessary than digging around in the sex life of Liberace (at least his story has music to fall back on).  But how far have we come? Once, long ago, Hollywood made biopics about monarchs  and presidents, people who accomplished things and changed the world. Now, rather than pages out of history books, we get pages out of the tabloids.  You’ve gone the wrong way, baby!

That’s exactly how “Lovelace” feels. This is not the portrait of a life, but a  dreary soap opera about an abused woman with a scummy husband who forced her (at gunpoint, we’re told) into a life of pornography and prostitution. The problem is that this movie is all tragedy and no substance, giving us a story  that might have been better suited for a documentary, which is curious because  the movie comes from directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman who have made  great documentaries like “The Times of Harvey Milk” and “The  Celluloid Closet.” Why didn’t they just make a documentary? This is drama  played at the level of a bad Lifetime Original Movie.

Lovelace – henceforth referred to by her given name, Linda Boreman – is played  in a stiff performance by Amanda Seyfriend, an actress of breathtaking beauty  who has yet to find a role that proves that she is more than just photogenic.  She plays Boreman as a wounded saint, a  Little Girl Lost who is pushed and bullied and manipulated by her husband  so much and so often that we never feel that there was another note to her  personality.  Her performance is made up of wide-eyed  petrified looks wrapped up in period clothes.

The movie hits the bulletpoints of Boreman’s life without examining any of  them. She was born Linda Boreman in Brooklyn, New York in 1949 under  domineering parents, and then uprooted to Florida where she had a baby by age  19. In the aftermath of giving up her child, she met Chuck Traynor (Peter  Sarsgaard), who initially seemed like a nice guy, but turned out to be a  slimeball who (she said) got her involved in the porn world against her will.  He even sold her into prostitution to get himself out of debt. Sarsgaard is a good actor whose range here  moves from creepy nice guy to desperate pervert with an unnerving slow burn.

Most of the movie follows Boreman’s volatile relationship with Traynor.  The film’s first half of the shows a loving  relationship that builds between him and Boreman. Then, the second half rewinds  the clock and tells her side of the story in flashback, this time containing  the more realistic bits of his control over her every move. You can’t help but  feel pity for Boreman, but knowing the rest of her story, when she renounced  the industry, divorce, remarried and  had a child, you can’t help but feel that there was more to her story than just  sex and being slapped around. Her life away from Traynor, and her famous interview  with Phil Donahue, are handled in a few brief scenes, but you get the feeling  that this is where the film’s second act should have begun.  The film wants us to understand  the circumstances that took Boreman from porn star to anti-porn feminist but it  wallows in the glow of her early profession with lots of soft light and  nudity.  Epstein and Friedman wallow in  the decadence of a lifestyle they are trying to renounce.

The problem with telling the story of Linda Lovelace is that there really isn’t  much to tell. If “Deep Throat” has been a flop, no one would care or even  remember her. The only way to tell this story would be to portray the 70s porn  chic world that surrounded that movie as Paul Thomas Anderson did with “Boogie  Nights,” which showed the glamour and the superficial hedonism of an era in which the morals of America were  slipping so fast that porn was threatening to become mainstream.  The  story of the film’s impact was also told much better in the 2005  documentary “Inside Deep Throat,” which wasn’t a great movie but offers more  insight into that world than is portrayed here. What we get in “Lovelace” is an  exploitative portrait of misery and despair that ends with Linda becoming a  feminist. Yet, that transformation comes as  a momentary revelation.  Screenwriter  Andy Bellin misses the journey that got here there.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2013) View IMDB Filed in: Drama