Lovelace Review

Posted: December 16, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

poster51Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

We don’t see too many films about the porn industry. I don’t know if it’s because so many people look down on porn or if Boogie Nights just did it so well that no one else wants to tackle the subject matter. At any rate, it’s a subject matter that isn’t explored often, which is a shame because a lot of human drama can be mined from the porn industry. Such human drama can be found in the true story of Linda Boreman, better none as Linda Lovelace, star of the classic porno Deep Throat. Though there have been smaller productions of her story, the new film Lovelace is the first theatrical production to take on her story.

The film opens in 1970 with Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfriend) as a young woman unexposed to the porn industry. She and her best friend Patsey (Juno Temple) each get a job as gogo dancers at a roller rink. It is there that Linda attracts the attention of Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) and the two enter a relationship. Soon, the couple are living together and eventually get married. However Chuck falls into serious debt that the two need to pay it off fast. Traynor uses his connections to get Linda a job working in porn films, where she will become Linda Lovelace in one of the most celebrated porn films of all time; Deep Throat.

I remember hearing a fair amount of this film but being surprised when distributors sort of snuck it into theaters then quickly snuck it out. I wondered if it had something to do with the negative image porn has in the media. After watching the film, I know that isn’t the case. The real reason Lovelace barely spent any time in theaters is because it’s a very mediocre production. Most of the blame for this can be placed on the directorial duo of Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman. There’s nothing excessively wrong with their direction, but there’s also nothing to note either. The production values are about what one expects from a TV movie and while its recreation of the 1970s isn’t bad, it does feel very small. The duo also has a problem with the tone of the film. The first half is very much an exploration of the success of Deep Throat which the film seems to celebrate while the second half is about Linda’s exploitation by Chuck and the industry. A shift in tone is fine but it just feels awkward here.

A lot of the blame also falls on screenwriter Andy Bellin. Bellin’s script seems to be on cruise control as we zoom through ten years of Linda’s life so quickly that nothing really leaves an impact. At a runtime of barely an hour and a half, events feel simplified and a few minutes on wikipedia revealed that a lot has actually been omitted from the real story. I’m not saying the film needed to be completely accurate to history, but the fact that entire chapters are missing sheds light on why the film feels so insubstantial. To Lovelace’s credit, the central story is interesting, even with so many storytelling problems and I did leave the film knowing more about Lovelace and Deep Throat than I did before. There’s also some funny bits of dialogue and while the film is messy, it’s never uninteresting.

The real shame of all the flawed filmmaking is that the cast here is really giving it their all. Most people will focus on Amanda Seyfried’s performance as the title character and she does a good job. It isn’t the great performance we’ve come to expect from biopics, but she does a good job and makes a strong case to be taken seriously as an actress. Peter Sarsgaard also does strong work as Linda’s husband and helps keep the character from feeling unrealistic. The supporting cast is filled with solid turns from actors like Bobby Cannavale, Chris Noth, and Hank Azaria. I also really liked Robert Patrick and Sharon Stone as Linda’s concerned parents. While I was disappointed in James Franco’s cameo as Hugh Hefner, the cast is pretty strong overall.

I can’t say I was ever bored with Lovelace, but there’s no denying this is a very mediocre work. Linda Lovelace’s story is an interesting tale and the cast is a lot of fun, but both are at the hands of a creative trio which just isn’t talented enough to pull this off. If you’re interested in Lovelace or the Golden Age of Porn, then this movie probably won’t show you anything new and if you’re not interested then you likely won’t care. It’s never bad, but in more skilled hands it could have been much better.

C

Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Dan. There was so much more information about this gal’s life, post-porn that they didn’t even bother to fully dive into. It felt as if the directors wanted to make something along the lines of Boogie Nights, but leave out the thought-provoking ideas.

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