Lovelace review

In 1972, a hardcore porn film was releaed that changed the industry forever. It was the first adult film with a scripted narrative, and it also had quite a sense of humour. And its release had everybody talking about the film that told the story of a woman with her clitoris in her throat. It starred newcomer Linda Boreman – aka Linda Lovelace – and went on to become the highest-grossing porn film ever. It's a controversial film - it was banned in many places, its producers were allgedly connected to the mafia, and star Lovelace was allegedly forced to perform in the film by a violent and abusive husband.

Lovelace is a film of two halves. It's not quite a biopic, more a look at the making of Deep Throat and what happened to Linda afterwards. We meet Linda Boreman (Seyfried) as a 21-year-old living with her very strict, religious mother (Stone) and more relaxed father (Patrick). At a party one night she meets the charming Chuck Traynor (Sarsgaard) and they eventually marry.

The rest, as they say, is history. Or two histories, and we get both played out here. The first sees Linda, with the stage name Lovelace, getting involved in pornography with the starring role in Deep Throat, urged on by sleazey husband Chuck. It's a fairly lighthearted Boogie Nights-style sex romp. Then we get the same events played out again, this time with a darker perspective that portrays Linda as an abused wife who was forced into a life of pornography, often at gunpoint. Which story is the truth? It seems we'll never know, as Lovelace died in a car accident in 2002. Over the years she wrote several, conflicting biographies, from the  "pro-porn" Inside Linda Lovelace and The Intimate Diary of Linda Lovelace in 1974 to "anti-porn" Ordeal and Out of Bondage in the 1980s. The film tries to strike a balance between both stories, yet somehow falls short on both sides.

Seyfried was a surprising choice for the lead role, but she acquits herself well in what many would consider a risky part for a mainstream star. And the supporting cast are all terrific and watchable, from the always terrific Azaria to Franco in a lovely cameo as Playboy supremo Hugh Hefner. The showstopping performance, though, comes from Sarsgaard as the abhorrent Traynor. Even if the abuse allegations are not true, what sort of man would want his wife becoming a porn star? The film looks terrific, with first-rate recreations of the 1970s – everything is in shades of beige or orange, and Seyfreid's 70s hair has to be seen to be believed. As a whole, Lovelace is generally engaging, but feels somewhat incomplete – as though we're not getting the full story. And we probably never will.

Lovelace at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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