Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lovelace - 3 1/2 stars

This is a reprint of my review from Sundance.  Now that more people have seen it, it looks like I'm in the minority.  Most critics seem to be saying that the movie just doesn't say enough about the situation, it just kind of presents the events as they happened.  Well, whatever.  I enjoyed it.

Amanda Seyfried stars as Linda Lovelace, the star of the 70s porn movie Deep Throat. It's hard not to be reminded of Boogie Nights, since both films are about the porn industry and set in the 70s.
As the movie begins, Lovelace and her friend are typical teenagers. They meet an older man, Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) who Linda starts to date and eventually marries. Chuck owns a bar and is involved in some illegal activities, and when the IRS comes after him, he needs to make some money. He convinces Linda to audition for a porn movie.

She gets the job, and the movie Deep Throat becomes the highest grossing porn movie in history. The movie and its star become so popular that everyone from Bob Hope to Johnny Carson start referencing them.  Thanks to Lovelace and Deep Throat, porn has invaded pop culture.

One thing interesting about the movie is the way it seems to rush through the story so quickly. By the time Lovelace is hanging around with Hugh Hefner, I was feeling like the movie was just giving us the cliffs notes. But then, the movie jumps back to the beginning of Linda's porn career and we see the details we didn't see the first time around. We learn how she didn't want to do it, and how her abusive husband forced her to do whatever he wanted. We see what a tragic story this really is.

At the post-screening Q&A, the directors explained the reason for the structure of the movie. They said that when everyone learned about Linda Lovelace, it was just the happy, fun stuff. It wasn't until years later when her autobiography came out and she went on talk shows that we learned the ugly side of her story. The movie mirrors that. We as the audience experience Lovelace's stardom the way the rest of the country did.

The structure works and the acting is really, really good. I wouldn't be surprised to see Amanda Seyfried nominated for some acting awards at the end of the year.

The movie is tough to watch in places, but it isn't depressing. In the end, I believe it's actually empowering to women. Linda Lovelace had no support in her life. Her husband treated her horribly and her parents were no help at all. Eventually she had to find the strength to leave her husband and reclaim her life. She did this all on her own, and I think it's a really moving story. I really enjoyed the movie.

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