Published on September 10th, 2013 | by Allan Brown4
Movie Review: Lovelace (2013)
Running Time: 93 mins
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Writer: Andy Bellin
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, James Franco, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Juno Temple, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Bobby Cannavale
Plot: A biopic following the troubled life of 70s porn icon Linda Lovelace and the abuse she met at the hands of her husband Chuck Traynor.
Documentary filmmaking duo Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman present their first feature length movie, based on the infamous career of 70s porn starlet and Deep Throat actress Linda Boreman aka Linda Lovelace. The film is based on Linda’s autobiography entitled ORDEAL and catalogues her rise to fame, from her wholesome beginnings, all the way to her abrupt exit from the industry a mere 17 days later. However, this film biography is most notably a story of the abuse Linda endured, not only from the porn industry itself, but at the hands of her husband Chuck Traynor, during their turbulent 6 year relationship.
The film showcases two separate perceptions of the Linda Lovelace story. For the first hour we are shown things from the public’s point of view showcasing Linda’s sharp rise to celebrity status as well as the impact the Deep Throat movie had on the world at that time. The Second story, we see things from Linda’s own and often quite harrowing point of view, as we witness the ordeal she went through whilst with her husband and self-appointed manager, Chuck Traynor.
Because of the sudden tonal narrative shift it leaves it hard to invest emotionally in any of the characters
While this aspect of the story is certainly insightful and matched with a chilling performance from Peter Sarsgaard, from a narrative perspective the approach is perhaps a little jarring. The first segment is fun, full of energy and light hearted. The second (the one we all came to see), brutal and unflinching, but to start the main story after an hour of what feels like a collection of celebrity news reels ultimately leaves little time in the 93 min run to develop this chapter adequately.
Because of the sudden tonal narrative shift it leaves it hard to invest emotionally in any of the characters. So what we are presented with is a simple yet brutal catalogue of abuse, but unfortunately that is all it is. When Linda eventually leaves Chuck the story is rushed along with little time for complexity or subtleties to its un-compelling ending, we never really get to see what happened after. Surely a woman who endured that amount of abuse would have psychological problems, but this is never examined, instead it is neatly tied up in a bow for the sake of the narrative were we see Linda making amines with her parents in an all too obvious and clichéd conclusion.
While the film does suffer from various issues it can be said its chief virtues are in its strong directing and its solid performances. Amanda Seyfried is effortlessly captivating in the role as Linda offering fragility to the character unmatched. Peter Sarsgaard is equally compelling as the abusive husband, Chuck Traynor. Sarsgaard brings an initial charm to the character that slowly develops into the twisted and threatening monster he becomes further into the narrative. Robert Patrick and the unrecognisable Sharon Stone are also solid in the small roles as Linda’s parents. The fact is, nobody across the whole cast puts in a performance short of fantastic.
In addition, the movie also pays great attention to the period detail, giving an accurate look and feel of the 70s era that many films struggle to recreate convincingly. Its refusal to linger on the sexy, flashy or gratuitous is also a good move from the directors, it instead makes Linda’s story the main focus of the film and is all the better for it.
Summary: Lovelace looks great and offers a plethora of rich performances, but beyond this the narrative simply isn’t compelling enough or presented with enough depth for the audience to fully engage or emotionally invest.