“Lovelace,” the new film biography of the woman who starred in the most famous porn film of all time, “Deep Throat,” struggles to find novelty in a story that plays as depressingly familiar.
It’s the “pretty young thing corrupted by a monstrous control freak” tale that follows Linda Boreman from not-quite-innocent girl to porn star Linda Lovelace, her troubled life afterward and late life redemption.
Her real life was messier than even that suggests. But this brief, sketchy movie about that “anything goes era” can never decide if it wants to be history, amusing satire, or tragic cautionary tale.
Amanda Seyfried makes it worth watching, seriously sexing up her image with a fearless turn as a naive beauty with self-esteem issues who gained fame but not fortune for making a dirty movie that all of America – it seemed – took in.
Linda Boreman and her family – an unrecognizable Sharon Stone as her worn, bitter and unforgiving mother, Robert Patrick as her forgiving but disappointed dad – have moved to Florida, Linda says, to escape the scandal of Linda having a child out of wedlock. Now, she’s hanging with a wild child (Juno Temple) whose partying, sexually active ways put Linda on the radar of the sleazy operator Chuck Traynor. Chuck (Peter Sarsgaard) charms her, teaches Linda about sex and pushes her into porn.
Casting the always-good Sarsgaard as Traynor works against the film in that he’s played exactly this sort of guy before, in “An Education.”
The scenes about filming “Deep Throat” are never quite as playful as the acclaimed documentary “Inside ‘Deep Throat.’ ” But Hank Azaria is quite funny as the delusional, wig-wearing director, Gerard Damiano.
The “Lovelace” filmmakers laugh through the making of the junky farce “Deep Throat” mainly through incredulous reaction shots of the director, producers (Chris Noth is a money man) and crew.
And then the ugly side shows up. This part of the story has a series of confusing flashbacks within flashbacks, all hinging on a lie-detector test.
Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have two Oscars (“The Times of Harvey Milk,” “Common Threads”) for their documentary work. But this “based on a true story” feature, like their Allen Ginsberg bio-drama “Howl,” is neither satisfying as drama nor irrefutable as history.
The sinister undercuts the silly, and the righteous redemption is shortchanged.
Through it all, though, Seyfried dazzles as a woman hiding the fear and showing off her low self-esteem with every see-through dress.
One moment, with the photographer shooting pictures for the movie’s poster, she lets us see Lovelace as she saw herself – freckled, ordinary, but “beautiful” for the first time.
It’s too short to do justice to its subject, but in an era when young women build careers and get rich off “secret” sex tapes that somehow make their way onto the Internet, maybe that’s all this subject deserves.
“Lovelace” was but an aberration, an amusing, then quaintly grim footnote on our way to a Paris Hilton/ Kim Kardashian future.