Arguably the first porn superstar, Linda Lovelace shot to fame in mainstream America when the goofy 1972 porn film Deep Throat became a bonafide hit. Linda was a girl next door who happened to have an extreme talent, and the feature-length porno was watched by everyone from celebrities to suburban couples on date night.
Lovelace attempts to unravel the story of the actress Linda Lovelace, from her public persona as a willing girl who loved all the sex all the time, to her true story (according to her autobiography Ordeal), where she told of her unwilling life in pornography, that involved stories of horrific abuse and rape. We meet Linda (Amanda Seyfried) just out of her teens, living in Florida with her conservative parents (Robert Patrick, and an unrecognizable Sharon Stone, both affecting). She’s a good girl, but meets bad man Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard, in full-douchebag mode) when he sees Linda and her girlfriend go-go dancing with a band. Chuck is an entrepreneur of sorts, running a strip club, and seeing dollar signs in the sex industry. After a whirlwind romance (aka Linda runs away with Chuck), he finds that Linda, well, has another talent–and it ain’t acting–which might just make her a star in the porn industry.
The first half of Lovelace shows the making of Deep Throat, and its huge success and stardom for Linda. But Linda is reluctant to continue making other hardcore films, despite the public’s demand, and Chuck’s insistence, until she runs away from Chuck. Then Lovelace goes from bad to worse–much worse–as the story repeats the timeline, but this time showing the abuse, rape, and manipulation that Linda suffered from her husband behind the scenes.
There is definitely an interesting story in here. Linda Lovelace eventually came out as a victim and became outspoken against abuse in the pornography industry. There are still many people who don’t believe her stories, and claim that she seemed in all cases to be a willing participant. There are many layers to the stories that could be explored, but Lovelace just gives two surface levels. The cast, I think, would have been up to the task (watch for Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale, and Adam Brody in memorable supporting roles), but the film itself just isn’t there to match the talent involved.
In the meantime, for a well-rounded analysis of the movie Deep Throat (as well as Linda Lovelace), I’d recommend the interesting documentary Inside Deep Throat instead.