The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Lovelace | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Lovelace

Biopic of the 'Deep Throat' star.

Directed by: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Juno Temple, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Chris Noth, Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, Chloe Sevigny, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Wes Bentley, Eric Roberts

In 1970, 20-year-old Linda Boreman lives at home in Florida with her strict Catholic parents (Stone and Patrick). When she meets restaurant owner Chuck Traynor (Sarsgard), the couple quickly wed. Traynor's restaurant is shut down when waitresses are caught turning tricks in the car park so, desperate for money, he convinces Linda to travel with him to New York and enter the porn industry. Porn director Gerry Damiano (Azaria) and his mob financiers (Noth and Cannavale) are won over by footage Traynor shot of Linda performing oral sex and cast her as the lead in their next movie, 'Deep Throat', renaming her Linda Lovelace. The film goes on to become the highest grossing film in porn history, making Linda a household name. Behind the scenes, however, her life with Traynor is far from idyllic.
Early on in Epstein and Friedman's biopic, Linda and Chuck have a discussion about 'The French Connection'. Nothing remarkable about that, apart from the fact that the scene is set in 1970, a year before William Friedkin's hit film would hit theaters. Still in 1970, we see Linda visit a roller disco, a concept that wouldn't appear until the mid-seventies. In a scene set in 1972, a character puts on George McRae's 'Rock Your Baby', a record that wouldn't be released until 1974. As someone with a trainspotting obsession with seventies pop culture, I found these moments particularly annoying but they also tell you the film-makers don't really care about their work. I suspect Lovelace was chosen as a film subject only because every other interesting figure of the era had already been covered. The pair relate her story in such a bland and lackluster manner, it's hard to believe it was ever one they really wanted to tell.
Using her much-disputed biography, 'Ordeal', as a template, the film portrays Lovelace as a mousy victim rather than the strong figure who became a feminist icon in the seventies. The main thrust of the narrative focuses on the physical abuse she claims to have endured from Traynor. There are so many blatant lies in the film, however, that it completely discredits this narrative, making it an insult to women who actually received such abuse. 
The film aims for a conservative audience and so twists history in an attempt to distance Lovelace from her involvement in porn. If this movie is to be believed, 'Deep Throat' is the one and only porno on her CV. "I only worked in the pornographic industry for 17 days", Lovelace claims on a chat show at one point here. In reality, Lovelace had several "movies" under her belt by the time she made her most famous film, including bestiality flicks involving dogs. Post-'Deep Throat', she also starred in its sequel and several cash-ins.
The portrayal of her second husband, Larry Marchiano, is completely sugar-coated here, showing him as the factor that changed her life for the better. In real life, however, Marchiano was an alcoholic who occasionally beat Linda. This wouldn't fit in with the film's conservative agenda, of course.
Apart from all this, Seyfried is frightfully miscast. Part of the cultural appeal of 'Deep Throat' was that it featured a star who looked nothing like a typical porn actress. Seyfried is far too conventionally attractive for the role and a scene where Damiano claims she looks too much like 'The girl next door' makes you wonder what kind of street he lives on. It doesn't help that her performance is terrible and wouldn't be out of place in an actual porno. Likewise Sarsgard, who couldn't be a more stereotypical seventies sleazebag. The time-manipulating structure of the film tries to shock us with the revelation that he wasn't a very nice guy but from his first appearance on screen Sarsgard comes across as a supreme scuzzball.
Ultimately, it's likely Epstein and Friedman have cut off their noses to spite their faces by making a film aimed at satisfying the sort of conservative viewers who are highly unlikely to purchase a ticket for a pornstar biopic.

Eric Hillis