By Don Simpson | August 10, 2013
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Writer: Andy Bellin
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Juno Temple, Chris Noth, Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Wes Bentley, Eric Roberts, Ron Pritchard
A film about a woman with a clitoris that is hidden deep down at the bottom of her throat, the iconic film Deep Throat starred a naive and unsuspecting Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) who was basically just doing the bidding of her violently controlling husband, Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s cursory bio-pic, Lovelace, covers Lovelace’s life from when she first met the ridiculously maniacal Traynor to the publication of her revealing autobiography, Ordeal.
Constantly jumping around in the timeline, Lovelace plays like a string of vignettes rather than a cohesive narrative. Other than a few fleeting scenes of domestic violence, Lovelace’s life does not seem nearly as dire as her autobiography suggests. Epstein and Friedman completely shy away from Lovelace’s history of drug abuse, her unhappy childhood and her feelings about the porn industry. Other than Traynor, the porn industry revealed in Lovelace actually seems like a pretty nice place to work — but of course Epstein and Friedman fail to mention the bestiality and fetish flicks that Lovelace reluctantly made prior to Deep Throat.
If Lovelace does comment on anything, it is Traynor’s manipulative powers of persuasion, from effortlessly winning over Lovelace’s working class parents (Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick) to training Lovelace on how to perform mind-blowing fellatio. Though he rules with an iron fist, Traynor is able to conceal his knack for abuse from most people. Those who do witness the scars and bruises of his machismo aggression do not seem to want to interfere with Traynor and Lovelace’s marriage — this even includes her bitchy and insensitive mother who refuses to acknowledge Lovelace’s blatant cries for help.
The overly melodramatic approach to the content lends Lovelace the air of a made-for-Lifetime movie, albeit one with lots of naked breasts. Similar to Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn — yet, a much riskier role choice — Amanda Seyfried gives a transformative dramatic performance as Lovelace, despite the cartoonish world that surrounds her. Okay, sure, Adam Brody and James Franco as Harry Reems and Hugh Hefner, respectively, are both fairly inspired casting choices, but they quickly turn into one-dimensional caricatures for us to laugh at. The production design (William Arnold) and cinematography (Eric Edwards), however, are absolute marvels to behold, masterfully capturing the nauseating glitz and glamor of the 1970s porn world with an era-specific warmth and texture.
The most intriguing aspect of Lovelace is Epstein and Friedman’s choice to portray dueling depictions of the behind-the-scenes production of Deep Throat, one from a naive vantage point of an idyllic world and the other from Lovelace’s own harrowing depictions. Unfortunately the executions of these reenactments are so muddled and random in the context of the film that it negates the meaning and significance of the scenes.