BY ROGER MOORE McClatcthy-Tribune
- Movie review
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Chris Noth, Hank Azaria, Juno Temple, Robert Patrick
Rated: R (strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and some domestic violence)
Running time: 1:33
“Lovelace,” the new film biography of the woman who starred in the most famous porn film of all time, “Deep Throat,” struggles to find novelty in a story that plays as depressingly familiar.
It’s the “pretty young thing corrupted by a monstrous control freak” tale that follows Linda Boreman from not-quite-innocent girl to porn star Linda Lovelace, her troubled life afterward and late-life redemption.
Her real life was messier than even that suggests. But this brief, sketchy movie about that “anything goes era” can never decide if it wants to be history, amusing satire or tragic cautionary tale.
Amanda Seyfried makes it worth watching, seriously sexing up her image with a fearless turn as a naive beauty with self-esteem issues who gained fame but not fortune for making a dirty movie that all of America — it seemed — took in.
Linda Boreman and her family — an unrecognizable Sharon Stone as her worn, bitter and unforgiving mother, Robert Patrick as her forgiving but disappointed dad — have moved to Florida, Linda says, to escape the scandal of Linda having a child out of wedlock. Now, she’s hanging with a wild child (Juno Temple) whose partying, sexually active ways put Linda on the radar of the sleazy operator Chuck Traynor. Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard) charms her, teaches Linda about sex and pushes her into porn.
Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have two Oscars (“The Times of Harvey Milk,” “Common Threads”) for their documentary work. But this “based on a true story” feature, like their Allen Ginsberg bio-drama “Howl,” is neither satisfying as drama nor irrefutable as history, thanks to the melodramatic Andy Belin (“Trust”) script. The sinister undercuts the silly, and the righteous redemption is shortchanged.
The blur of history, news clips about the era, the whirl of premieres, parties and Johnny Carson “Deep Throat” monologue jokes, captures the time. But some of the stunt casting — James Franco as Hugh Hefner — fails.
Through it all, though, Seyfried dazzles as a woman hiding the fear and showing off her low self-esteem with every see-through dress. One moment, with the photographer shooting pictures for the movie’s poster, she lets us see Lovelace as she saw herself — freckled, ordinary, but “beautiful” for the first time.
It’s too short to do justice to its subject, but in an era when young women build careers and get rich off “secret” sex tapes that somehow make their way onto the Internet, maybe that’s all this subject deserves. “Lovelace” was but an aberration, an amusing, then quaintly grim footnote on our way to a Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian future.