BBFC Classification: 18
Directors: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Franco, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Juno Temple, Hank Azaria
The thing with your average movie biopic is that most of the time you either have to glam it up a bit to make the overall story a bit more interesting and cinematic or, on some occasions and depending who the subject is, you have to do the opposite and tone it down a bit for mass audience consumption. With Lovelace – the story of porn star Linda Boreman, better known by her stage name Linda Lovelace – it would appear that the filmmakers went with the latter.
Lovelace is a film of two halves, the first being a straightforward run through Linda Boreman’s life from meeting Chuck Traynor to becoming Linda Lovelace and making the legendary porn movie Deep Throat, and then on to the critical acclaim and praise that she received from the adult film industry. Then things take a turn and we move forward a few years and see Linda taking a lie detector test in preparation for her biography (one of four that Boreman eventually released, each one contradicting the last). The scenes that we have already seen with the smiling Linda Lovelace basking in the attention of the spotlight are then played again but this time with some added footage that shows what really went on between Linda and Chuck during those times and setting the scene for her eventual escape from the porn industry and her abusive marriage.
Where Lovelace scores highly is in the casting. Amanda Seyfried does extremely well with what could potentially have been a problematic role for many a mainstream actress to pull off (sorry, but as least it wasn’t a ‘suck’ joke) and digs deep (apologies again) to become Linda Lovelace rather than the doe-eyed girl from Mama Mia in a brown wig. Peter Sarsgaard has played scumbags before but he gives a little more than usual in his portrayal of Linda’s husband Chuck Traynor, the fear and anger the character needs really showing in the actor’s face. The supporting cast are all good but Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) and an unrecognisable Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct) as Linda’s parents put in a proper performance during their brief stints on-screen, particularly the scene where Linda’s father John confesses to his daughter that he’s seen her film and realises that he is partly to blame for how Linda’s life turned out, and Robert Patrick totally sells the part even though we don’t really get to see that much interaction between him and Seyfried.
But despite the strong cast and convincing performances the details of the story feel remarkably clipped, the film touching on what audiences would likely know already going in and not really expanding on any of it. This, combined with the fractured nature of the storytelling, makes it a little confusing as to who the film is actually aimed at as the safe nature of script is too commercial for exploitation fans but how likely are mainstream audiences to queue up to see a biopic of a 1970’s porn star? It’s certainly not a bad film and it is worth watching if you have any interest in the subject or the era it is set in, which is recreated excellently, but it is a little too sympathetic to Linda’s own account of what happened – in the sense that many liberties are taken with what is chosen to be told and several known facts about Lovelace’s other pornographic adventures are left out – to be considered definitive and ultimately feels underwhelming because of it.
Special Features: Behind Lovelace featurette.
UK Release Date: 23rd December 2013