By Chaz Lipp
Lovelace, the biopic about the late Linda Boreman (better known by the stage name used during her career as a pornographic film star, Linda Lovelace), is most definitely not a celebration of the adult entertainment industry. But it does begin as such. The first half-hour or so depicts Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) enthusiastically embracing her new line of work, which led to a starring role in the infamous 1972 “mainstream” porn flick, Deep Throat. Then, for the remaining hour, co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman turn the tables on viewers by spinning back the clock and retelling her story as one of tragedy and abuse.
Truth be told, there’s not much of a story here. Those who worked with Boreman, including ex-husband Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) and Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano (Hank Azaria), seem to believe she was raring to go. Linda says she was coerced into performing by force – abused, drugged, and trapped. In real life, there are insiders who say the truth falls somewhere in between the two extremes. But for the sake of this dramatization, the story is told without nuance. Sarsgaard plays Traynor as a standard-issue creep (which he does well, but his performance isn’t particularly inspired). Seyfried plays Boreman as a doe-eyed, babe in the woods – sympathetic, sure, but the way the movie stacks the deck, how could she not be?
Some of the other attention-getting names in the cast are used to no good effect. James Franco drops in for a pointless cameo as Hugh Hefner. Chloë Sevigny appears in something far less than a cameo, making a blink-and-miss-it appearance as a reporter of some kind. One suspects there was far more to Lovelace that didn’t make the final cut. Juno Temple, Wes Bentley, Eric Roberts, Chris Noth, and Debi Mazar are all on board, but none makes a lasting impression.
One actress does. As Linda’s mom Dorothy, Sharon Stone is so deeply in character that it never even occurred to me that it was her. Dorothy is depicted as a hard-edged woman who advises her daughter to put up with her husband’s physical abuse (she put up with it from her husband, she reasons). We learn that Dorothy even tricked then-teen Linda into giving up her out-of-wedlock child for adoption, then relocated the family (Robert Patrick plays dad John) so she’d never have a chance of seeing the kid. The screenplay (by Andy Bellin) fails to sufficiently explore the mother-daughter relationship, easily the most intriguing element here. Stone may not have had much to work with, but she took the ball and ran with it. If there’s one reason to see Lovelace, it’s for her bracing, unsympathetic portrayal.