×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lovelace

Reducing an immensely disturbing, politically byzantine tale to a series of cartoonish vignettes, this celeb-studded biopic squanders a gutsy performance by Amanda Seyfried while making '70s porn look scarcely more sleazy than a movie-of-the-week melodrama from the period.

With:
Linda Lovelace - Amanda Seyfried
Chuck Traynor - Peter Sarsgaard
Anthony Romano - Chris Noth
Gerry Damiano - Hank Azaria
Butchie Peraino - Bobby Cannavale
Dorothy Boreman - Sharon Stone
John Boreman - Robert Patrick
Harry Reems - Adam Brody
Patsy - Juno Temple
Hugh Hefner - James Franco
Nat Laurendi - Eric Roberts

The late star of “Deep Throat,” Linda Lovelace, titled her 1980 autobiography “Ordeal,” but, for the most part, “Lovelace” goes down smooth. Reducing an immensely disturbing, politically byzantine tale to a series of cartoonish vignettes, this celeb-studded biopic squanders a gutsy performance by Amanda Seyfried while making ’70s porn look scarcely more sleazy than a movie-of-the-week melodrama from the period. Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman forsake the truth-telling spirit of their past work in documentary, relying on jumbled chronology and long ellipses to smooth over the Lovelace saga’s many rough edges. Commercial rewards appear doubtful nonetheless for the Radius-TWC pickup.

Nowhere in the pic’s whirlwind 93 minutes are the details of Lovelace’s unhappy childhood in working-class Yonkers; her pair of serious car accidents, one of which required a blood transfusion that eventually led to her contraction of hepatitis; her pre-“Deep Throat” involvement in “Dogarama,” a film featuring bestiality; her mid-’70s addiction to pot and painkillers; her late-’70s gravitation to Christianity; or her years of work in anti-porn feminist activism — unless one counts a patronizing title card at the end.

An honest account of Lovelace’s infernal experience might well be unfilmable in the current climate. In any event, “Lovelace” does make room within the boundaries of R-rated entertainment for the porn star’s infamous husband, Chuck Traynor, played by a muttonchops-sporting Peter Sarsgaard as a greedy, glowering, violently coercive man who cries on occasion.

Near the start of the film, Traynor spies a 21-year-old Lovelace shimmying onstage at a Florida roller rink and sets about seducing the naive young woman, bringing flowers to dinner with her clueless parents (Robert Patrick, and a nearly unrecognizable Sharon Stone) before literally pushing her to practice the finer points of fellatio. Skip to six months later, as the new Mrs. Traynor bails her husband out of jail and is convinced to audition for Gerry Damiano (Hank Azaria), a porn auteur who’s proud to be lensing his next pic, “Deep Throat,” in 35mm.

For reasons best known to themselves, Epstein and Friedman depict the production of “Deep Throat” twice in succession — first with a wide-eyed and blushing Lovelace acting more or less independently, and again in a version that, acknowledging the real woman’s “Ordeal,” includes images of a pistol-packing Traynor delivering abusive direction behind the scenes. One can only surmise that the first version is there to appease those who continue to dispute the Lovelace account (this despite the fact that, as the film itself portrays, she passed a polygraph test administered by her publishers).

Whatever the case, “Lovelace” lacks the nerve to adhere to the standard practice of biography, resulting in a film that purports to respect its subject without fully taking her side. To its credit, the movie includes one extremely unpleasant scene of Lovelace being raped by Traynor (who in real life argued that the pair’s rough sex was consensual), but it concludes on a note that could easily be read as upbeat.

Certainly the film bears evidence of some last-minute shifts of political perspective: Sarah Jessica Parker was widely reported to have played Gloria Steinem in the movie, but she’s missing from the final cut, while Chloe Sevigny’s role as a feminist reporter amounts to a single shot.

William Arnold’s impeccable production design, captured in all its garish color by Eric Edwards’ cinematography, is never less than fully of the period. Other tech credits are vivid, but sometimes to a fault, as re-creations of “Deep Throat” shots suggest a vastly more accomplished production than the amateurish one that miraculously grossed an estimated $600 million — with $1,250 reportedly going to Lovelace.

Lovelace

Production: A Radius-TWC release of a Millennium Films presentation of an Eclectic Pictures production, in association with Untitled Entertainment, Animus Films, Telling Pictures. Produced by Jason Weinberg, Jim Young, Heidi Jo Markel, Laura Rister. Executive producers, John Thompson, Mark Gill, Merritt Johnson, Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard. Co-producers, Robert J. Dohrmann, Benjamin Scott, Marvin Acuna. Co-executive producers, Miles Levy, Vincent Jolivette, Lonnie Ramati. Directed by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman. Screenplay, Andy Bellin.

Crew: Camera (color), Eric Edwards; editors, Robert Dalva, Matthew Landon; music, Stephen Trask; music supervisor, Selena Arizanovic; production designer, William Arnold; art director, Gary Myers; set decorator, David Smith; costume designer, Karyn Wagner; sound (Dolby Digital), Steve Morrow; supervising sound editor, Eric Offin; re-recording mixers, Chris David, Offin; special effects coordinator, Larry Fioritto; visual effects supervisor, Marc Hall; visual effects, AAStudios; stunt coordinator, Jason Rodriguez; assistant director, Rod Smith; casting, Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres), Jan. 22, 2013. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: Linda Lovelace - Amanda Seyfried
Chuck Traynor - Peter Sarsgaard
Anthony Romano - Chris Noth
Gerry Damiano - Hank Azaria
Butchie Peraino - Bobby Cannavale
Dorothy Boreman - Sharon Stone
John Boreman - Robert Patrick
Harry Reems - Adam Brody
Patsy - Juno Temple
Hugh Hefner - James Franco
Nat Laurendi - Eric Roberts

More Film

  • Dee Rees

    Dee Rees Directing 'Kyd's Exquisite Follies' Movie Musical

    “Mudbound” director Dee Rees will direct independent movie musical fantasy “The Kyd’s Exquisite Follies” from her own script. “The Kyd’s Exquisite Follies” will be produced by Cassian Elwes, one of the “Mudbound” producers. Santigold is set to compose the music, with Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic creating the film’s visual effects. Endeavor Content is repping the [...]

  • The Paradise

    Shanghai Film Review: 'The Paradise'

    Although gritty dramas about the hell of drug addiction are seldom in short supply in the low-budget independent sphere, it’s hard to imagine even the most uncompromising U.S. film committing quite as tenaciously to the idea of the bleak futility and probable failure of rehabilitation as Shih Han Liao’s compelling downer “The Paradise” (title ironic). [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    MGM to Adapt Rodney Dangerfield Comedy 'Back to School' as Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Rodney Dangerfield may finally be getting some respect in the halls of higher education. MGM Television is developing a docu-series inspired by the 1986 Dangerfield film “Back to School,” in which the comedian’s character, millionaire Thorton Melon, enrolls in college with his son to keep him from dropping out. In typical Dangerfield fashion, he triggers [...]

  • Michelle Rejwan Lucasfilm

    Lucasfilm Hires 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Producer Michelle Rejwan

    Lucasfilm has hired “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” producer Michelle Rejwan as senior vice president of live action development and production. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy made the announcement Monday. Rejwan was a co-producer on 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” a co-producer on JJ Abrams’ “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and an associate producer on [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 Production

    'Game of Thrones,' Netflix VFX Among Those to Be Featured in SIGGRAPH Production Talks

    VFX pros behind the final season of “Game of Thrones,” the blockbuster film “Avengers: Endgame,” Pixar’s upcoming “Toy Story 4,” last year’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Netflix series, including “Stranger Things,” and more will give SIGGRAPH 2019 attendees a behind-the-scenes look at their work during the conference’s Production Sessions. There will even be a [...]

  • Lionsgate Planning 'Hunger Games' Prequel Movie

    Lionsgate Planning 'Hunger Games' Prequel Movie

    Lionsgate has begun working on a “Hunger Games” prequel movie, based on a forthcoming novel from writer Suzanne Collins. “As the proud home of the ‘Hunger Games’ movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published. We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to [...]

  • Siberia Keanu Reeves

    Saban Films Turns 5: How the Indie Studio Grew While Rivals Faltered

    Saban Films doesn’t make the most noise. It doesn’t have the splashiest premieres or parties. But the indie film label just quietly did what many of its early rival failed to pull off. It celebrated its fifth anniversary at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. “We stuck to our plan,” Saban Films founder Bill Bromiley told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content