Reviews

No Love Lost for 'Lovelace'

Amanda Seyfriend conveys Linda’s blunt, emotional thought process without judgement and is excellent at acting badly. That’s no jab. Acting like a bad actor is no easy feat


Lovelace

Director: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Cast: Amanda Seyfriend, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Adam Brody, Juno Temple, Chris Noth, Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria, James Franco
Length: 93 minutes
Studio: Millenium Films, Animus Films, Eclectic Pictures, Telling Pictures, Untitled Entertainment
Year: 2013
Distributor: Anchor Bay
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and some domestic violence
UK Release date: 2013-12-23
US Release date: 2013-11-05

Some stories don’t need to be told, and even more don’t need to be told twice. The true story of Linda Lovelace could fall into both categories. While the true story of the Deep Throat actress/porn star hadn’t been told on film until now (other than the little known 2003 film Deeper Than Deep starring Patricia Arquette and Charlie Sheen), its depiction in Lovelace makes you wonder why it’s necessary right now.

By the end of it all, directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman try to make a case for relevancy by focusing on the difficulties faced by Lovelace and how other porn stars face similar challenges. Um... because we don’t already know that? Is the world under the false impression that these performers lead glamorous lives? Are people envious of them? Jealous? Did anyone suspect Linda Lovelace had lived a perfect life, free from abuse, drugs, and manipulative “friends”? If they did, her biography, Ordeal, should’ve cleared up any doubts.

For those of you interested in seeing the big screen version, let me save you some of the trouble. Lovelace follows the basic format of most biopics. We start with our subject at a young age, before all of the insanity brought on by fame ensues. We meet young Linda living with her parents, innocently dancing with her friends, and basically being a good girl. She doesn’t drink. She doesn’t smoke. She doesn’t do drugs. Woah! What? A porn star who wasn’t always crazy? Keep reading for more shocking news!

What could possibly turn her to the dark side? Could it be a conniving boyfriend who’s thinly veiled legitimacy is so see-through he’s practically winking at the camera? You bet it is. Embodied by Peter Sarsgaard, a master in smarmy characters, Linda’s boyfriend-come-husband Chuck is a completely uncompel,ing character, due to his one-dimensionality. Does he love Linda? Obviously not. Does he have an unhealthy obsession with her? Obviously yes. Is he dangerous? You all know the answer by now.

All right. I feel like I’ve been a little harsh. Lovelace features a few fine performances, including a one-note but surprisingly affecting turn from an angry Sharon Stone as Linda’s disapproving mother. Robert Patrick plays the bewildered father well, and Adam Brody is as delightful as ever.

Much of the dramatic heft falls on the film’s lead and, for the most part, Amanda Seyfried handles the load well (please no one make any puns out of this). She conveys Linda’s blunt, emotional thought process without judgement and is excellent at acting badly. That’s no jab. Acting like a bad actor is no easy feat, and Seyfried’s portrayal of Linda when she’s “acting” is convincingly brutal but believable to the character. Seyfried doesn’t command the screen, but it’s hard to blame her when the material is this thin.

There’s one clever structural decision in Lovelace that occurs at the end of the second act, but it doesn’t have the revelatory force it could have in the hands of better directors. Veteran documentary filmmakers Epstein and Friedman create a few compelling visuals with cheap looking floral wallpaper and some sharp '70s costumes. They don’t, however, know quite what makes for a compulsory viewing experience.

In the Blu-ray’s one and only special feature, a 14 minute making-of featurette called “Behind Lovelace”, the directors describe seeing the footage of Linda on Donahue. That’s when they claim to know there was more to her than meets the eye. Funny. I would have guessed they learned that when they read her book.

The result of the duo’s lack of focus or odd choice of focus leaves Lovelace too simple. Too predictable. Too conventional. Too safe, an adjective completely inappropriate for a film about the '70s porn industry. As stated earlier, Lovelace lacks relevance. The biggest debate in the porn industry these days is how to get people to pay for it and whether or not actors should have to use protection during their onscreen intercourse. Neither are addressed here.

I don’t think modern porn stars have much to learn from Lovelace, nor do we have anything to learn from them through it. It feels like it’s coming out at the wrong time, though it’s hard to imagine what wouldn’t post-Boogie Nights.

3

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image