Lovelace

Lovelace-posterLovelace features everything you would expect from a movie about a porn actress: There’s a naïve heroine, shady guys, a rise to fame, sordid situations and some glamour. This is certainly more than most of us will ever experience during a lifetime but this narrative asset is also what harms this biopic about Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace.

Whether or not you are familiar with the documentary Inside Deep Throat.  Ms. Lovelace best-selling biography Ordeal or the infamous pornographic blockbuster, chances are you know what will happen and the movie will unfold without much surprises – in case you are wondering, no I haven’t explored any of these but if you are looking for a pretext to do your homework before watching this picture, be my guest!

Filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman must have realized that this story was too easy as they build their movie on flashbacks – unless they really thought they would surprise us, which would be too naïve or condescending. They show us first the Cinderella-like story, from the early days to stardom, before rewinding to offer this time a much more realistic and sleazier version. Unfortunately, for a movie running just 1 hour and 32 minutes, this not only looks awkward but also like a lazy attempt to fill 90mn of content.

With such a strong subject, the main issue with this film is that neither the screenwriter nor the two directors seem to be up to the task, delivering instead a soft, formal work that has the feel of a TV movie designed like a PSA to warn innocent audiences about the dangers of the porn industry. Compare Lovelace to Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant Boogey Nights and you will instantly see what’s missing here, from self-derision to a sense for style, rhythm and a taste for risk. Talking about risks – or risqué –, I also found this work to be quite hypocritical, being too prude for his subject – not that I wanted to see some porn but I found amusing that a film about this industry showed less skin than your average European film or HBO show.

What’s left of Lovelace? Besides putting Ms. Lovelace’s life into perspective, the lead actors are the ones who make this whole affair watchable. In the title role, Amanda Seyfried shows innocence, vulnerability and courage – interestingly she was discovered on the show Big Love along her onscreen hubby, Beaking Bad’s Aaron Paul. Peter Sarsgaard’s performance is probably even more striking, portraying Linda’s repugnant and seductive husband, Chuck. Also noticeable, Amanda’s despaired parents are incarnated by an unrecognizable, subdued, Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct) and a quiet Robert Patrick (Terminator 2 – an underestimated actor who incidentally also appeared in Big Love).

Lovelace’s failure seems to emphasize the impossibility to transpose an adult industry subject for mainstream audiences, the movie about fetish starlet Betty Page (The Notorious Betty Page) suffering from similar flaws.  While the filmmakers involved might have something to do with this, what works better is when a director steps out of his comfort zone to tackle our most depraved instincts as the recent Spring Breakers and Canyons can attest.

Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman Actors:  Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard Running Time: 1:32 Year: 2013 – Country: USA

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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.