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Lovelace
★★☆☆☆
First run Screening room

The brilliant documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk, The Celluloid Closet) haven’t fared as quite as well with their recent shift into docu-drama, but with their latest film Lovelace they deliver an above average biopic. Much mythology surrounds the 1970s porn industry and the film Deep Throat specifically. Gerard Damiano's cult-porno crossover is still the most well known adult film of all time and it made its star, Linda Lovelace, a household name throughout the mid ‘70s. Epstein, Friedman and screenwriter Andy Bellin score points by devising a movie structure that avoids the trite biopic formula. They cleverly present Lovelace’s story the same way the world came to know her in real life: first via an almost fairytale celebrity fantasy, and later going back to reveal the darker truth. Unfortunately, once they do begin to tell the story behind the story, the film falls back into the familiar trappings of its abbreviated genre, and we end up without a sense of Lovelace as a flesh and blood character.

Despite this, star Amanda Seyfried gives a surprisingly strong performance in the lead role. She is able to coax some nuance and depth from what is basically a thumbnail sketch of a victim. The rest of the supporting cast is made up largely of stars doing extended cameos (like James Franco as Hugh Hefner) but these actors all embody their roles far better than I expected. Sharon Stone, in a role that could have sunk the picture into caricature, provides the film’s best performance as Linda’s strict Catholic mother. It’s too bad Peter Sarsgaard, as Linda’s husband/manager/pimp Chuck Traynor, isn’t as understated and convincing as Stone--we’ve also seen this actor play this role far too many times. Lovelace is neither the shallow celebration of ‘70s porn nor the by-the-numbers docu-drama I was expecting, but, like the 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat, it only scratches the surface of this fascinating but depressing chapter in cinema history.

Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Produced by Heidi Jo Markel, Laura Rister, Jason Weinberg, and Jim Young

Written by Andy Bellin

With: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Juno Temple, Chris Noth, Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, Chloë Sevigny, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Wes Bentley, LisaGay Hamilton, and Eric Roberts

Cinematography: Eric Alan Edwards
Editing: Robert Dalva and Matt Landon
Music: Stephen Trask

Runtime: 93 min
Release Date: 08 August 2013
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Color