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Lovelace is the story of Linda Lovelace, the woman who starred in the 1972 porn classic Deep Throat, which was one of the first porn films to gain popularity with the mainstream public. Shortly after leaving the porn industry, Linda went on to campaign against the porn industry and become an advocate for women’s rights and Lovelace outlines the reasons why.
The story of how Linda was forced into the porn industry against her will is what could have made this film great, but unfortunately the structure of the film completely ruins this interesting story. Instead of just telling the story from start to finish in the order of the events as they happened, the film instead tells the story twice. In the first version of the story we see Linda meeting Chuck Traynor, falling in love, and then happily entering the porn industy and becoming an overnight success. The second time the story is told, many of the scenes are repeated but with additional bits added to show what really happened. In this version, the events do not unfold quite so happily, and the viewer sees Linda being forced by a violent and controlling Chuck to star in a porn film that she has no desire to be in.
Perhaps the editors told the story twice in order to emphasise that first appearances are not always what they seem, but it effectively means that the first half of the film does not make any sense. Linda is shown to be sweet and unhappy about performing some sexual acts on her husband, and then all of a sudden she’s starring in a porn film without any explanation except that the couple are a little strapped for cash. Yes, the later part of the film does explains the confusion and reveal how she was forced into it by a manipulative and controlling husband, but it’s not done in a way that makes you forgive the initial confusion. Instead, it leaves you frustrated and thinking ‘why didn’t you just explain that in the first place?’
Although there is little doubt that Linda was in an abusive relationship, by just showing Linda as a controlled innocent, the film is actually quite constricting and it suggests that Linda was a woman incapable of making her own decisions from the start. The film fails to show the serious car incident that Linda was involved in before meeting Chuck. It was an incident that almost ended her life and had they included it, it might have helped viewers understand Linda’s vulnerability. She met Chuck at a time in her life when she very insecure and in a position where Chuck could very easily play on her emotions and make her reliant on him. By giving us little detail about her life before she met Chuck and only showing a sweet sugary version of Linda Lovelace, the film trivialises Linda’s earlier life and implies it played little part in her fate.
Peter Sarsgaard is very good and chilling as the unfeeling Chuck Traynor, a man entirely consumed with using his wife’s assets to look after his own interests. The only flaw in this dark portrayal is that he comes across as creepy from the start, hanging out at venues and leering at girls who look far too young for him, and this makes it difficult to understand what attracts linda to him in the first place.
To conclude, Lovelace tells an interesting tale in an uninteresting way that creates confusion and wastes time. It excludes details about linda’s life that might have made her story more human and relatable.
Dir: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Juno Temple, Peter Sarsgaard
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