Say the name Linda Boreman to anyone and they will most likely respond with “who?” But if you were to refer to her by her briefly adopted stage name “Linda Lovelace” most would know right away that you’re talking about the actress of the most successful porno of all time, Deep Throat. Lovelace focuses on roughly six years (1972-’76) of her life leading up to, shooting, and immediately following the famous film. Those familiar with the story know that she ended up being quite the tragic character, and those unfamiliar with the specifics will still recognize it from various other incarnations.
Even though Lovelace, played by Amanda Seyfried, is undoubtedly the main character of the film, it ultimately ends up being about how her villainous husband is the reason she got into the business that made her famous. The story begins with her meeting Chuck Traynor (Peter Sargaard), a nice enough guy who we know will end up being bad for her. The story moves past the whole ‘falling in love’ part and goes right to them as a married couple. He’s a club owner with ties to the porno industry and when he gets hard up for cash suggests his wife show the world her unique talent. The rest, as they say, is history.
There is nothing particularly compelling, provocative or unique about this story. Perhaps this is why directors Rob Epstien and Jeffrey Friedman choose to play with the chronology a bit. The first half concentrates on the events as viewed by most outsiders: girl meets boy, girl marries boy, boy gets girl into porno movie, movie is enormously successful, girl becomes sex symbol, and everyone parties. Then the film doubles back on itself and we see the things people weren’t seeing at the time: boy beats girl, boy manipulates girl, boy threatens girl at gunpoint, boy pimps girl. This is what I mean when I say it ends up being more about Traynor than Lovelace, who just ends up being a victim.
Linda first wrote about these horrific experiences in her book Ordeal and the dark side of Deep Throat’s success was also shown in the far more interesting 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat. So even while watching the fun and games portion of the film, many will know that it wasn’t fun for Linda and find it difficult to laugh at the jokes and enjoy it the way we’re supposed to.
It would have been a far more original and considerate to the memory of Linda (who died in a car crash in 2002) to concentrate more on the story of her life as an anti-porn activist. I can only imagine that turning her back on the icon that she had become was met with a lot of resistance from fans and others in the industry. This is a story nobody really knows, yet it’s a barely an epilogue in the film. We all know Lovelace, show us Boreman.
One saving grace of Lovelace is the cast. In addition to the Seyfried and Sarsgaard, who pull off some pretty tough scenes, the film is helped along by a stellar supporting cast that includes Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannivale, Juno Temple, Adam Brody, Chris Noth and James Franco (who was originally attached to play Traynor but ends up taking a cameo as Hugh Hefner). I give the cast full credit for giving this movie the entertainment value that it has. Most of my criticisms cited above didn’t occur to me until afterwards which I now realize is a testament to the performances, not the film’s story or style.