Naive Linda Boreman (Seyfried) marries hustler Chuck Traynor (Sarsgaard). As Linda Lovelace she appears in X-rated film Deep Throat. Escaping Traynor, Linda writes a book exposing his abuse and her unwilling involvement in the porn industry.
In 1974, Linda Lovelace put her name to two cheekily saucy autobiographical books that traded on her stardom as the Deep Throat girl, Inside Linda Lovelace and The Intimate Diary Of Linda Lovelace. In the 1980s, she published two as-told-to memoirs, Ordeal and Out Of Bondage, which covered the same ground with a very different slant.
Considering co-workers, friends and critics have suggested neither of Linda’s autobiographical modes was entirely truthful, it can’t have been easy to develop a biopic. Lovelace takes a semi-Rashomon approach and delivers two overlapping films which roughly correspond to the protagonist’s 1970s and 1980s accounts of her family life, marriage and career. First up is a peppy, funny, sexy Boogie Nights-ish showbiz story with dark undertones, as Linda (huge-eyed Amanda Seyfried, with huger ’70s hair) flees her domineering mother (a brilliantly cast Sharon Stone) and falls in with semi-charming sleaze Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Then, as Eric Roberts (in a tiny role that might well be a nod to the similarly plotted Star 80) administers a polygraph insisted on by her publishers, we loop back and get most of the story again, with a more brutal, upsetting picture of an exploited, abused woman coerced into her famous fellatio routine and later pimped out by a desperate, violent thug.
The film concentrates on Linda, staying away from the dodgy dealings seen in the documentary Inside Deep Throat: here, to show how bad things are, a Mafia-affiliated producer (Chris Noth) is one of the more positive men in Lovelace’s life. Seyfried is bright and affecting as Linda, who keeps getting bad advice (her mother tells her to stick in her marriage and do what her husband says) and there are vivid cameos from Juno Temple, Robert Patrick, Hank Azaria (as Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano) and James Franco (a sinister Hugh Hefner). It has the ’70s sunstruck look and compilation soundtrack, but even the nastier take on the story feels partial.
An entertaining, provocative biopic with good performances and many strong scenes but it still doesnt feel like the full Lovelace story.