Starring Amanda Seyfried & Peter Sarsgaard
Directed by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
In UK Cinemas August 23rd, 2013

by Susanna Jones

As far as biopics go – Lovelace is definitely worth watching. It may not be a movie you’ll revisit over and over again but it is captivating, revealing, interesting and tastefully portrayed.

For those who don’t know, Linda Lovelace was a pornographic actress most famous for her role in Deep Throat; a film that received unprecedented popularity in the 1970s ultimately throwing young Lovelace into the spotlight. The Deep Throat film itself depicts a disheartened woman who can’t seem to enjoy sex. But after visiting her doctor she discovers her clitoris is buried deep in the back of her throat. The only solution to achieve sexual gratification? Fellatio.

But behind the scenes, the young actress’ experiences in the industry were far from glamorous. Later on in her life she wrote a tell-all book explicitly detailing how she was coerced and exploited, especially by her then husband Chuck Traynor.

The Lovelace film mimics these two perceptions. The audience is first an outsider- the public, enjoying the film and the starlet’s rise to fame. She is beautiful and sweet despite a strict and unhappy upbringing. She will be a star. You also meet Chuck Traynor and follow their romance from beginning to end. Although you may not trust Chuck’s motives – the film doesn’t blatantly spell this out for you. The first perception is the story from A to Z.

Then the film re-introduces many of the scenes we’ve seen before but this time from Linda’s perspective. More horrific scenes of spousal abuse, coercion and control become real. This simple but inventive way to tell the story is perhaps its best device. It cleverly avoids dictating the audience’s interpretation of events.

The casting for this film is superb. I admit I wouldn’t have thought Amanda Seyfried could pull off such a dramatic role – maybe because I really only know her from Mamma Mia and the Dear John abomination. She is not only well cast as Linda Lovelace, but plays the role with intelligence and emotion. She is not the pitiful creature one could easily depict in such a dark story. You are instantly drawn to her character and become understanding of her rather than solely empathetic.

Peter Sarsgaard’s role as the devious husband, Chuck Traynor, is outstanding. He plays the role as Linda would have seen him in their early years – potently charming and cool, but maintains the air of a sadistic and selfish character which he then slowly reveals. But he’s not just the monster either, he is real. There is depth to his character and his playing of it.

James Franco also appears in the movie as Hugh Hefner – but all I have to say about this is…Why is he in EVERYTHING? He’s EVERYWHERE! Anyway, he was okay. He asks somewhat politely to be fellated.

Most impressively is how tasteful the movie is depicted. Perhaps this was done to honour the Linda who devoted much of her life after Chuck to speaking out against the pornography industry. The urge would have been to act on the salacious nature of the story, but it was beautifully filmed. There is mild nudity but the sexual acts are far from obscene. What themes are highlighted instead are the abuse and the subjectivity. It also doesn’t take a stance on the pornographic industry either. It avoids any political agenda and simply depicts the story. Nothing is shoved down your throat – so to speak.

Ultimately, it’s a beautiful biopic. It’s a tragic story, but with relatively ‘happy endings’.

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