In 1972 – before the internet, before the porn explosion – Deep Throat was a phenomenon: the first scripted pornographic theatrical feature film, featuring a story, some jokes, and an unknown and unlikely star, Linda Lovelace. Escaping a strict religious family, Linda discovered freedom and the high-life when she fell for and married charismatic hustler Chuck Traynor. As Linda Lovelace, she became an international sensation – less centerfold fantasy than a charming girl-next-door. After struggling to break free from Traynor whose endless abuse nearly killed her, Linda made it her life’s mission to fight violence against women.
eyelights: its cast. its two-sided story.
eyesores: its casting choices. its sketchiness.
“Tell me: Who’s the real Linda Lovelace?”
Honestly, I had no intentions of seeing ‘Lovelace’, the 2013 biopic on Linda Lovelace, star of ‘Deep Throat’ and pop culture icon. The moment that Amanda Seyfried was cast in the title role, my interest dropped – not because I dislike her as an actress (I do!), but because I felt that she absolutely doesn’t look anything like the porn legend.
I knew then that it would be a loose adaptation of Lovelace’s life.
But I was intrigued nonetheless, in part because of Seygfried, and decided to give it a chance. Unsurprisingly, Seygfried is excellent in the picture, but at no point did I believe that she was Linda Lovelace; she was a stand-in for her, that’s it. The same went for Peter Sarsgaard, as her spouse and manager, Chuck Traynor.
The problem for me is that it looked like play-acting to me – good performances that don’t necessarily emulate reality. This prevented me from fully immersing myself in the story, which basically takes us from Linda’s early adulthood, to porn stardom, to the aftermath some six years later, as she desperately tries to move on.
The structure was also a huge problem for me: ‘Lovelace’ felt very sketchy to me. For a picture that purports to be biographical, it doesn’t delve into its protagonist much – it strictly focuses on Linda Lovelace’s (né Linda Boreman) porn-related years; it doesn’t afford a true glimpse at what else has shaped the woman’s life.
But perhaps that was the point: it’s called ‘Lovelace’, her porn name, not ‘Boreman’ – so perhaps the filmmakers’ only interest was telling her story as a porn star. And yet, even that feels incomplete: we don’t get to see the many other things she attempted beyond ‘Deep Throat’ and what made her turn her back on its success.
The one thing that is interesting about the picture is that they tried to show us the more glamourous side of her life, all the adulation, the parties, the media exposure, …etc., and then contrasted it with what was actually going on behind the scenes – her awkward start, her parents’ disapproval and Traynor’s repeated abuse.
…verbal, physical and sexual.
But, for some reason, this didn’t really hit home. Either it’s because we were only afforded brief snippets of each contrasting bit, or because the rest of the picture doesn’t follow the same pattern, but it didn’t come together cleanly, or make its intended impact. It was interesting, but it wasn’t emotionally affecting.
At least the picture looks the part: it has a grainy, ’70s style to it that makes you believe that you’re back in the era – as opposed to some films that only emulate it through costuming, make-up and set design – which is also fairly successful here, with everyone and everything looking the part as much as physically possible.
The cast is all very good and it’s an impressive bunch. But there were far too any familiar faces, adding again to that impression of role-playing. Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick were excellent as Linda’s parents, but there was too much star power there, given that they’re supposed to be a nondescript suburban couple.
So, once again, it’s difficult to believe that what you’re watching is reality.
…even though it’s largely true.
It’s too bad, because Linda Boreman’s story is filled with all sorts of myths and uncertainties that haven’t been fully cleared up to this day. For instance, although she claimed to only having been in the porn industry for 17 days, there are persistent rumours that she’d done much edgier fare before doing ‘Deep Throat’.
And there’s the no small matter of her dreaming of becoming a star, using her notoriety to build a career, and later turning her back on all of it, taking sides with the morality police (both feminist and Christian), only to return to porn in her later years. For some reason, none of this is explored to any significant extent.
It leaves one entertained by ‘Lovelace’, but not fully satisfied. Though everyone turns in earnest work, it feels incomplete, like a series of broad strokes that don’t paint a full picture of its subject. All it does is portray the darker side of a glamourous life – but merely as a moment in time that has no real cause and/or effect.
And yet, it defined and devastated Linda Boreman’s life.
That seems too important not to study.
Date of viewing: September 24, 2016