|Courtesy of RADiUS-TWC|
2013, 92 minutes
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and some domestic violence
Review by Joshua Handler
Lovelace tells the story of famed actress Linda Lovelace, best known for her work in the outrageously successful 1972 pornographic film, Deep Throat. Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables, Mean Girls) stars as Lovelace, and Peter Sarsgaard stars as Chuck Traynor, Lovelace's abusive husband. The film is uniquely-structured and surprisingly violent, but moving.
The highlight of Lovelace is the acting. I was not been a fan of Amanda Seyfried's work in Les Misérables or Mamma Mia!, but she is powerful in Lovelace. Linda Lovelace came from a very religious family with a strict mother (played here by an unrecognizable Sharon Stone) and was thus very naive when forced into the porn business by Traynor. Seyfried captures Lovelace's vulnerability and slow breakdown over the course of the film as the abuse begins to take more and more of a toll on her. I felt for Lovelace every step of the way thanks to Seyfried. Sarsgaard, an actor I hold in a very high regard, is frightening as Traynor. His performance is quietly, yet volcanic. My gut dropped every time he appeared onscreen. He made me hate Chuck by the end of the movie, meaning he nailed it. Sharon Stone is unrecognizable as Lovelace's psychotically religious mother, Dorothy. It is great to see Stone back in good roles, as she's an underrated and talented actress. This is a really meaty role and Stone jumps into it.
The story has a fascinating structure. The first half tells the basic story of Lovelace and how she made Deep Throat. The second half fills in between the scenes told in the first half. What we didn't see in the first half was all of the brutal domestic violence. Lovelace was abused physically, sexually, and verbally by Traynor and directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman don't hold back, though the violence isn't graphic. Many scenes in Lovelace are hard to watch. Epstein and Friedman show just enough to make the audience get the message, but pull back so as not to make the film exploitative.
The story is a bit generic, as it is a traditional biopic, and it becomes somewhat sentimental at the end, but that did not bother me, as this was such a well-made movie. The film is well-shot and has either added-in film grain effects or was shot on film to give it a '70s feel.
Overall, Lovelace isn't a great biopic, but is a really good one with two brave lead performances. I hope Seyfried takes more roles like this one because this movie proves that she can deliver as a serious leading film actress. Again, this is not an easy film to watch, but is certainly an important one that many people will be fascinated by.