Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
As it so happens, many, many years ago in college, I read both of Linda Lovelace's books Out of Bondage and Ordeal.  Let me tell you , while Steven King might've been the king of horror in the mid 80's when these books were released, I don't know if they held a candle to the tales that Linda Lovelace was weaving in these harrowing biographies.  Still can't shake them all these years later.  I guess the only real surprise is that it's taken the powers that be this long to finally roll around with a Lovelace biopic, one of the issues I've read has always been trying to find someone to actually play Linda Lovelace.  Well, we finally have that biopic and we have the lovely Amanda Seyfried in the lead.  We'll get around to discussing that in a bit, but the movie itself… eh… It was okay.

Linda Boreman (Seyfreid) seemed like a nice enough kid.  Being a young woman in the free and easy early seventies, we're given some insight into some slight missteps the young woman has taken, which is one of the reasons her mother Dorothy (Sharon Stone) is so strict with her.  Even though she's in her twenties.  Then one day Linda meets the super smooth, super suave Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) who takes her away from all of these oppressive restrictions.  Now while I have no idea what the real Chuck Traynor was like, there is something inherently creepy about Peter Sarsgaard which flies totally in the face of super smooth and suave, so that was the first pill we had to swallow to buy into the film.

At first, everything with the new Traynor union seemed all good for Linda, though Chuck often warned her not to question him on his business, whatever this business was.  Then we see Linda having to bail Chuck out of jail and now the Traynor's have money problems and now Chuck needs Linda to bail him out of his money problems.  Director's Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman play with the timeline a bit, so things appear to play out just swell and then we back track to see how things really were behind the scenes.
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For instance, Chuck arranges a meeting with pornographers Butchy Peraino (Bobby Cannavale) and Gerard Damiano (Hank Azaria) to try to get Linda cast in one of their films.  They aren't interested since Linda isn't really much of a looker… more on that later… but Chuck points out that Linda does have a specialized skill that might be of use for their particular business.  Duh.  And the international sensation that would change the adult film industry, 'Deep Throat' is born.  Now knowing Linda as we do, at least to this point, she didn't seem like the kind of person who would willingly walk into a pornographers office, then willing to walk onto a film set and perform pornographic acts, but then we back track and see how Chuck 'convinced' her, basically starting with their wedding night, into doing whatever he wanted her to do.

Yes, 'Deep Throat' apparently was a cultural phenomenon back in the early seventies, it played in major theaters, Johnny Carson joked about it, Linda was the toast of the town and got to travel around the nation and even was the special guest of one Hugh Hefner (James Franco), but the abuse never stopped.  One can only take so much for so long and fearing for her life, Linda Lovelace was able to free herself from the clutches of Chuck Traynor and subsequently the X-rated career of one Linda Lovelace mercifully came to an end, and boy… would she have some stories to tell.

We did have some issues with 'Lovelace' one being Amanda Seyfried in the lead who might've been a touch miscast.  Now don't get me wrong here as Ms. Seyfried is a fine young actress and there was nothing particularly wrong with how she portrayed Linda Lovelace, it's simply a matter of appearance.  The real Linda Lovelace was no beauty and had a bit of a hard edge to her, thus when the pornographers were protesting about casting her in their movie, we could buy that in reality.  But in a reality where someone who looks like Amanda Seyfried walks into your porno office, soft, demure, cute and adorable… in addition to some other things she brings to the table… we don't buy into that anymore.  So two things have happened to this movie watcher already, one being we are having difficulty accepting Peter Sargaard as a smooth operator and two, we are also having difficulty buying into Amanda Seyfried as a pornstar whose only appeal is the ability to deep throat. 

Then we have the issue of the horror that Linda Lovelace suffered through.  Since we've read the books we know how horrible, at least according to the author, it was for her.  This movie tones down the horror from the books from a level of absolute horrible degradation and humiliation, to just really messed up.  That's a significant alteration.  I do understand that trying to dramatize all of the hell that Lovelace wrote about would make this movie worse than all the 'Saw' movies combined, and I'm not trying to downplay what was shown in the film, but there was a lot more… I feel… the filmmakers could've done to truly immerse the audience into the tragedy that Lovelace wrote about in her books.

Still, 'Lovelace' isn't a bad film.  I might not have brought into Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace, but I did buy into her as an abused character in this movie.  The film is interesting and entertaining to watch and it does open with 'I've Got to use My Imagination' by Gladys Knight and the Pips, arguably the greatest song ever committed to vinyl.  If you were to ask me.  There were solid performances all around, especially from a near unrecognizable Sharon Stone, and the movie felt completely authentic for the time period.  I just had the feeling that 'Lovelace' wasn't prepared to commit itself completely to its subject matter.  I can understand why, but I'm still a little disappointed by it.
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