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Lovelace - Review

Lovelace

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AMANDA Seyfried delivers a career-best performance as porn legend Linda Lovelace in this surprisingly gripping biopic.

The actress, hitherto better known for Mamma Mia! and Les Miserabes, is on career redefining form in what is a highly complex role.

Co-directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the film examines how Lovelace came to prominence and notoriety in one of the most successful blue movies of all-time (Deep Throat), touching on her strict upbringing and showing how she eventually became a strict advocate for women’s rights and an ardent campaigner against pornography.

The first half plays out like a fairytale as Linda is swept off her feet by the charismatic Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), saved from her strict mum (Sharon Stone) to become a poster girl for the porn industry who even captures the attention of Playboy‘s Hugh Hefner (James Franco).

The second half rewinds these events and replays them as revealed in Lovelace’s eventual biography, Ordeal, in which she faced abuse and humiliation at the hands of both Traynor and the industry itself.

It’s during these moments that an altogether different picture of fame is achieved and one that feels like an ordeal.

Epstein and Friedman may not venture too much beyond the period around Deep Throat, focusing firmly on the most harrowing years of Lovelace’s life as opposed to some of the things she achieved and battled against once she had found a voice of her own outside of the industry (indeed, it was originally conceived as a possible mini-series given the amount of content to get in).

But it remains an effective portrait of the truth behind one of the most notorious chapters in Hollywood and porn history.

As mentioned, Seyfried really comes of age in the picture, capturing both the wide-eyed wonder of Lovelace as she is seduced by Traynor. And then both the fear and, eventually, gritty survival instincts that enabled her to escape from her life of abuse.

There’s typically strong support, too, from Sarsgaard as Traynor, Stone as Lovelace’s mum, Robert Patrick as her father, and Bobby Cannavale, Chris Noth and Hank Azaria as the trio of porn producers behind Deep Throat.

Epstein and Friedman also capture a nice sense of the ’70s and don’t shirk from the uglier elements of fame and the sex industry. But crucially, their film never feels exploitative.

Lovelace has to rate as a significant achievement for both the directors and for Seyfried that could even mark a watershed moment in her own career.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 93mins
UK Release Date: August 23, 2013