Movie Review: “Lovelace”

Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Chris Noth, Hank Azaria, James Franco
Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman

1972’s “Deep Throat” was the porn flick that took blowjobs out of the closet and put them on “The Tonight Show.” It’s star was by far the most famous pornographic performer of all time and, it turns out, a victim of shocking abuse.

The only surviving film of a pair of planned projects about the woman who will forever be known as Linda Lovelace, “Lovelace” stars Amanda Seyfried as Linda and Peter Sarsgaard as her first husband, sexual Svengali and tormentor, Chuck Traynor. The most interesting thing about “Lovelace” is its structure. The film breaks down pretty clearly into two parts: one largely comedic, the other brutally tragic.

Part one is mostly a shockingly cheerful porn biopic that will please those who are longing for a less weighty “Boogie Nights” follow-up. It shows us how a sleazy but nevertheless charming and love struck Traynor seduces sweet and only slightly damaged 21-year-old Linda Boreman away from her unpleasantly rigid, super-traditional Catholic mom (Sharon Stone), her low-key security officer dad (Robert Patrick) and her understandably suspicious best friend (Juno Temple). The tone grows more blackly comedic as skeezy Chuck gets involved with pornsters and sells them on his wife’s borderline disturbing ability to suppress her gag reflex. Linda Lovelace is born.

Sometime after we see Hugh Hefner (a miscast James Franco) suggest that life should imitate art in a very specific way during a screening of the now hugely successful “Deep Throat,” “Lovelace” abruptly takes us six years later into 1980 as Linda Marchiano – she’s now married to apparent good-guy cable installer Chuck Marchiano (Wes Bentley) – passes a polygraph test and promotes her book, “Ordeal,” on the “Phil Donahue Show.” Just as abruptly, the film circles back to give us Linda’s very personal point of view of the events surrounding “Deep Throat.” It’s no prettier than the visible bruises on her legs.

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