'Lovelace' DVD Review: An Intense Look At The Woman Who Became One Of The Most Infamous Sex Symbols
The biopic Lovelace, depicting the anguish-filled life of Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace, is a compelling, well-composed film that will have you feeling thankful for your life's own blessings. The movie shows how Lovelace, born Linda Boreman, went from a young adult to the star of the most mainstream pornographic film of all time and illustrates the fascinating and brutal behind-the-scenes story of her life.
Amanda Seyfried stars as Linda and she nails the role. She is innocence mixed with sex; her wide eyes open to the adventures in store for her. This could not have been an easy role to play, filled with tears, tragic circumstances and mucho sexuality, but Seyfried shines and truly carries the movie on her narrow shoulders despite standing alongside a cast brimming with stars.
The movie features numerous big-name celebrities in featuring roles, with the list of actors on the DVD cover reaching 11 names long. Sharon Stone is perfect as Linda's hardened, controlling mother and the always well-cast Robert Patrick plays Linda's father. The cast also includes Hank Azaria, as the director of Deep Throat, Bobby Cannavale and Chris Noth as the mobsters who finance the movie, The O.C.' s Adam Brody and veteran character actress Debi Mazar as Linda’s Deep Throat co-stars, and Juno Temple. Even James Franco makes an appearance in a stunt casting cameo role as Hugh Hefner. Chloe Sevigny has a small role as well.
Lovelace begins in Florida, 1970. At 20, Linda is "Linda Boreman," a conservative young woman living with her parents. Linda soon meets and is swept off her feet by Chuck Traynor, an older man Linda views as wise and cool. Chuck introduces her to passionate sex, awakening her sexuality. Chuck is played by the stellar Peter Sarsgaard, who makes Chuck likable and exciting in the first half of the movie and revolting and despicable in the second.
The movie continues into 1972, when Deep Throat hit theaters and revolutionized the adult entertainment industry, making Linda Lovelace a household name. Lovelace became enthusiastic about her role, which the movie forced her into, as a spokeswoman for uninhibited hedonism and sexual freedom. However, Lovelace's real story was sorrowfully different than her short-lived glamorous one as an actress. She was unable to get parts outside of the porn industry and was brutally beaten by Traynor for the entirety of their relationship, something we learn about half way into the film.
Lovelace skillfully portrays the romance of Chuck and Linda, who married when she was naive and easily influenced by his manipulative nature. Chuck quickly becomes controlling and violently abusive. Lovelace depicts Chuck convincing Linda to do porn, beating her viciously, including rape, forcing her into prostituting herself repeatedly and even organizing for her to be raped by a group of men. The movie is difficult to watch during these times, but is relentless and powerful in its portrayal, making the threat of Chuck's abuse real for the audience.
The film's directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman made the very interesting and smart decision of composing the movie in two halves. In the movie's first half, the viewer is shown parts of scenes (the surface) with Linda and Chuck in a loving, if controlling, relationship. The film's second half shows the hidden truth behind these scenes – Chuck's frightening abuse. This artistic choice gives the movie a twist-filled nature and surprises those viewers, like myself, who did not know the true story of Lovelace and Traynor.
In the film, the hair, makeup and costuming allow viewers to be transported, with early-70s authenticity, into the era. Costume designer Karyn Wagner includes replicas of some of Lovelace's most famous looks, including a cutout bathing suit similar to the one worn by Lovelace in Deep Throat.
The DVD's only special feature, "Behind Lovelace," is an excellent behind-the-scenes featurette including interviews with the actors and filmmakers. I, personally, was eager to explore more about Lovelace and the productions of Deep Throat and Lovelace as soon as I finished the movie. "Behind Lovelace" was the perfect special feature to help me do so. However, I would have enjoyed more DVD extras, perhaps one on the film's wardrobe and beauty choices or one detailing more Lovelace's role as an anti-porn or feminist activist.
Lovelace skillfully reveals the dark reality behind the Deep Throat star's tragic, yet ultimately triumphant, life. The movie takes itself very seriously, which at times gives the impression of campiness. But Lovelace's directing choices, powerful script and quality acting depict Lovelace's story in an intense and captivating way, making it a film that is hard to take your eyes off of until the end credits roll.
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