Review: Subjective sympathy for 'Lovelace'

By Fred Hawson

Posted at Sep 09 2013 01:08 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2013 03:18 AM

Amanda Seyfried as porn star Linda Lovelace in a scene from the biopic "Lovelace"

I was not really planning to see this movie because of the sleazy subject matter. However, I was quite surprised that sweet and wholesome Amanda Seyfried has been cast as legendary '70s hard-core porn star Linda Lovelace. We know Seyfried better playing ingénues in musical films like "Mamma Mia" and "Les Miserables." How could she pull this daring stunt off? That I wanted to see.

"Lovelace" is like two movies in one. The first half is generally light and amusing, telling how young and pretty Linda Boreman, from a strict Catholic family, met and married a smooth-talking guy named Chuck Traynor. At first, she goes along with Chuck's wild idea to make her a porn actress, exploiting a certain extraordinary talent of hers which would be the central theme of a little triple-X film entitled "Deep Throat." She actually enjoyed the heady attention of this stardom (notoriety?) as Linda Lovelace -- for a while at least.

Then in a sudden change of pace, the second half of the movie turns very serious and dramatic, as it showed how behind the glitter of fame, Linda was relentlessly and mercilessly abused by her husband Chuck -- physically, mentally, sexually, financially. She quietly suffered this torture (ranging from domestic violence to forced prostitution) until she could not take it anymore and fights to get her old life back.

The acting of Seyfried was quite good, as she was able to convince us that she was Linda despite being cast against type. She will get us on her side especially by the second half, effectively making us feel her pain. Seyfried played the perfect naive victim, and her turnaround at the end was believable.

Peter Sarsgaard was effectively creepy as Chuck from the start. You really cannot understand how Linda would marry a seedy guy like this. He could have portrayed Chuck to be more charming in the beginning to convince us. But he looked like a creep from the very start, even in that scene where he first met with Linda's parents (portrayed by Robert Patrick and a completely unrecognizable Sharon Stone.) This movie painted the situation like it was all Chuck's fault.

There was a very abrupt and stark transformation from happy Linda in Act 1 and sad Linda in Act 2. I think the film's two directors, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, were trying to be stylistic about this, not telling these details linearly, instead going back and forth in time, repeating certain scenes with different emotion behind them.

Overall, this was a biopic which was very sympathetic to its subject, as a hapless victim turned activist against the very activities that brought her to fame.

People who watch this film expecting her to graphically reveal more skin will be disappointed, as Seyfried's version of Linda kept it relatively modest on screen. As biopics go, this one, despite the racy subject, could have been a TV movie instead. 6/10.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."