Sundance Journal: ‘Lovelace’

The moment it was announced that ‘Lovelace’ would play at Sundance, controversy mounted. Porn was everywhere at Sundance this year, but for some reason, the story of Linda Lovelace seemed to be the movie that took most of the antagonistic flak from outsiders. Like me, they most likely didn’t know the whole story.

I admit to being ignorant about Linda Lovelace’s life. All I knew before going into this movie was that she was the first big porn star to receive mainstream recognition, that ‘Deep Throat’ made untold millions over the years, and that she has been remembered for her “special skill” ever since.

The movie is based on the details that Lovelace discusses in her book ‘Ordeal’. At an impressionable age, then Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) met Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Linda was wild and didn’t fancy her mother’s oppressive religious ways. Chuck was a dashing hunk who swept her off her feet.

Sarsgaard plays the same kind of creep he played in ‘An Education‘. Here, he woos a younger woman with ease. He’s nice and cordial. Linda’s parents love him. They get married. Then he shows his true colors. Chuck is a man with demons. He owes a lot of people and can’t seem to find the money fast enough. He quickly reaches the end of his rope. He becomes physically abusive. He forces Linda to do porn.

Understandably, as this story is based on Linda’s memoirs, it’s entirely one-sided. According to the way the film plays out, Chuck is an evil man. The movie’s construction is subtly magnificent. At first, Linda and Chuck seem like they love life. Linda appears to be completely okay with doing porn movies. Then, the film double backs on itself and we see what was happening behind the scenes. We see Chuck mercilessly beat her, prostitute her and even threaten her with guns if she doesn’t do what he wants.

Some parts are hard to watch. Seyfried does a great job with the duality of the role. She has the phony happiness down perfectly. Sarsgaard is a menacing creep. He makes your skin crawl.

At the end of the movie, we’re given a truly startling statistic. This comes after Linda finally left the marriage and found another husband. She’s been out of the business for a long time. Words materialize on the screen: “Deep Throat has grossed approximately $600,000,000 since 1972. Linda Lovelace only made $1,250.”

Rating: ★★★½☆

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