LOVELACE is the worst type of biopic. Saying nothing of any substance about its subject, LOVELACE acts as a series of re-enacted moments that go no deeper than a Wikipedia entry about said person, checking off the highlights and lowlights of their life in chronological order – a greatest hits package of sorts. Working off a script by Andy Bellin, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film about ex-adult film star Linda Lovelace (played here by Amanda Seyfried) offers up no insight whatsoever about the woman or the trials and tribulations she went through in pairing up with her abusive and controlling husband Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). It gives no real sense of who the people were who populated the world she lived in, with fleeting appearances by her DEEP THROAT co-star Harry Reems (Adam Brody) and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (James Franco) seeming to only serve giving such major players face time in a film that otherwise has no use for them. And there is no real story thread to follow, with the film choosing not to explore one major part of Lovelace’s life or another beneath the surface.
LOVELACE breezes through 30 years of the woman’s life in 90-something minutes, and there’s no way to get an accurate portrayal of her with such a flippant approach. To make matters worse, LOVELACE paints Linda as a saint, offering her up as this angelic figure caught in the worst type of relationship that dictated her every move, from starring in porn to later prostitution. However, this naive and innocent picture painted of Linda Lovelace feels incredibly inauthentic, showing a woman with no thoughts or emotions to share for the purposes of telling her story. There’s nothing that gets into how she felt, what she was going through at the time leading up to or following the success of DEEP THROAT, and while Seyfried absolutely gives herself over to the role in trying to make it work, she can’t save LOVELACE from being pointless.
The film kicks off before Linda catapulted into stardom with the biggest porn film of all-time, DEEP THROAT. Instead we get her milling around with a friend (a wasted Juno Temple), being monitored by her overbearing parents and go-go dancing at a roller rink. It’s here where she meets Chuck, who at first comes off as charming yet mysterious to this self-proclaimed good girl. But it’s not long before his manipulative, mind-controlling ways are in full effect, and he has Linda moving away from her parents and into a life of pornography, using her oral skills to enhance their financial state. But once again, you never get any idea of her reluctance at all to anything Chuck wants her to do. She’s written with this wild-eyed optimism to willingly go along with everything that happens at the outset. She’s excited about being in a movie. She’s happy to be away from her parents. And while it may have made sense for Lovelace to hide any type of opposition in real life for fear of abuse, LOVELACE shouldn’t also be afraid. The movie should be willing to let you in on what is going on in Linda’s head at any given moment, because… well, there is repercussions to being honest. However, the film keeps everything on the surface level, and what you see is what you get, with no deeper exploration as to how the actions and behaviors of someone like Traynor affect Lovelace internally.
Even as the arrangements Chuck makes for Linda grow to be more extreme, such as a gang rape that has him standing right outside the hotel room, they’re glossed over in LOVELACE, treated as if they’re no big deal in the overall deconstruction of who Linda Lovelace is, and it’s simply onto the next big event that transpired in her life without taking even a moment to let the horrific nature of what has happened to her sink in. Linda is always shown to have her head about her, which doesn’t seem to gel with what’s happening to her, and there’s just something to LOVELACE that doesn’t seem to add up. It feels as if parts of Linda’s life that would show her in an unflattering nature have been ignored completely, in order to have a lead who is nothing but a victim at all times. And knowing a bit about Linda Lovelace’s past, that isn’t quite the case. LOVELACE whitewashes over the complicated aspects, in order to make her so wholesome and pure… and, in doing so, it makes for a rather insulting film.
Seyfried is really the only reason to give LOVELACE a look, and it’s not just for her first entry into on-screen nudity. The actress is charismatic enough to make Linda watchable, and in some smaller, more personal interactions with her mom (Sharon Stone), her dad (Robert Patrick) and DEEP THROAT’s financier (Chris Noth), you get some indication of the burden she carries every day in living with Traynor. That allows Seyfried opportunity to make some choices with Lovelace that aren’t so cut and dry, but those moments are few and far between, and the script just fails her on a monumental level by giving her nothing to really work with in realizing this interesting real-life figure on-screen. Noth, Patrick and Stone also lend some nice performances to LOVELACE, but their characters have such a minor place in the film’s focus that they can only do so much in elevating the material.
LOVELACE is a wasted opportunity to tell a story with some teeth about who Linda Lovelace was and what her life was all about. The film seems to be a race to get through as many events in her life as possible without ever really analyzing how important some of them. They’re all treated equally with none more important than the rest that by the end of the film you have no more information about Linda Lovelace than you did when you sat down to watch. For such an interesting woman with an sordid past, LOVELACE is incredibly bland, making it very tough to swallow.