Given she only spent the grand total of 17 days in the porn industry, it’s quite remarkable that 70s starlet Linda Lovelace holds such a legacy, has written a book that sold out no less than three print runs, and now 41 years after her film hit the big screen, she has Amanda Seyfried playing her in the self entitled ‘Lovelace’ . The aptly named ‘Deep Throat’ signified the start of the sexual revolution of the 1970s – the film’s popularity helped launch a brief period of middle-upper class interest in explicit pornography, which was referred to by the New York Times as ‘porno-chic’, a pattern that can surely be likened to El James’ Fifty Shades of Gray.
Amanda Seyfried’s last big screen appearance was as the adorable Cosette in Les Miserables, which makes seeing her now play a freckle-faced saucepot with sporadically tragic hair surprising to say the least. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s follow up to the the Allen Ginsberg biopic ‘Howl’ , ‘Lovelace’ is a film centered around human perception – perceptions not just of industries, but also those of relationships and most importantly of character. Anyone with even a limited knowledge of the Lovelace legacy will know that domestic violence tragically played a very significant part in her journey to stardom, albeit very privately.
Linda and Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaad) enter into a relationship that initially appears intense, incredibly charged, but altogether believable. The first half of the film shows Linda engaging in the on screen sexual acts and apparently revelling in it, with Chuck never far from her side. Then at a key moment the film adopts a clever way of playing on the idea of perceptions – or indeed in this case mis-perceptions – by doubling back and re-playing sections of the film we’ve already seen, this time adding in a presentation of the truth behind the smiles (and blowjobs).
Whilst the storytelling mechanism is clever, the area the film lacks in is any attempt at all to actually deal with the issue of domestic violence. We hear Linda talking about her book at the close of the film where there is a token mention; however it almost implies that she somehow deserved it. If Epstein and Friedman had spent another 20 minutes of the film unravelling the intricacies of the relationship, helping the viewer understand where it stemmed from, it would have shifted this film into being more exploratory rather than simply re-living the facts . The bad taste left in your mouth is therefore made worse when we’re told that Chuck went on to marry the ‘second most famous porn star in the business’.
A weak, artless but intriguingly pretty character, Seyfried’s Linda Lovelace won’t inspire much in you, but her story may do. If even Martin Scorsese, Truman Capote, Jack Nicholson and Johnny Carson have admitted to seeing ‘Deep Throat’, it’s clearly a story of cultural significance, making this biopic well worth a watch.
3 out of 5
Read Lovelace’s book after you’ve seen this film rather than before, otherwise you risk disappointment.
Check out this really interesting interview with Harry Reems on Dazed Digital, co-star of Linda Lovelace in ‘Deep Throat’, in one of his last interviews before his death earlier this year.