Review: Lovelace ★★★★☆

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Lovelace attempts to piece together the terrible ordeal pornographic actor Linda Lovelace went through when she starred as the lead in 70s adult movie Deep Throat. Her story is told in the form of a drama, with Amanda Seyfried playing the naive young girl who gets herself caught up in a strange and sometimes dangerous world.

Seyfried acts the role superbly, and she would certainly deserve an Academy Award nomination for a female in a leading role. Her attempts to show the trauma Linda went through during her short time in the pornographic industry, and her marriage to abusive husband Chuck Traynor, are very powerful and offer us a glimpse of an acting range previously invisible in her previous roles. Seyfried has never been awful, but here she proves she can be something extraordinary.

Peter Sarsgaard is also very good in the role of Traynor. There is a strange similarity between his role here and the part he played in Lone Scherfig’s 2009 film An Education, where he seduced and manipulated a young girl with lies and hidden agendas. This role, however, looks at an even darker aspect of the predatory male: the physical threat of violence he poses to his younger wife.

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman do well in lulling the audience into a false sense of security with an initial light and humorous approach to Lovelace’s story before filling in the gaps with the more disturbing details. The choice to shoot on grainy 16mm film stock also adds a lot of atmosphere to the picture, giving it a really grimy and dated feel.

There are a number of cameos from famous people playing famous people (the best probably being James Franco as Hugh Hefner). There is also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from actor Chloë Sevigny; perhaps a sly reference to her own history with real onscreen oral sex.

The film’s only downfall – and one that has been rightly noted by critics who don’t admire the film as much as I did – is its refusal to provide a deeper analysis into the question of whether pornography is a degrading or liberating industry for women. Here we get just Linda’s story (which to an extent is fair enough, since it is a biography of her life), but the film is deliberately coy about passing judgement on the industry as a whole. It doesn’t spoil the movie, but it does leave you with the feeling that the filmmakers took an easy way out rather than tackle some obvious and important issues.

Lovelace (2013), directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, is released in cinemas in the UK by Lionsgate, Certificate 18. Watch the trailer below (The trailer contains sexual content and scenes of threat). 

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

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