Sundance Review: ‘Lovelace’ doesn’t go deep enough despite Amanda Seyfried‘s efforts

<p>Amanda Seyfried of "Lovelace"</p>

Amanda Seyfried of “Lovelace” Credit: Sundance

Under the name Linda Lovelace, Linda Boreman starred in “Deep Throat,” the most successful hard-core sex film ever made, as well as a handful of less successful and less legitimate adult ventures. For a brief period in the 1970s, Lovelace was a public figure with a high degree of fame and notoriety.
In less than a decade, she had become an aggressive anti-porn advocate, writing multiple books about the evils of the industry that quite literally gave her her name.
For years, Hollywood has tried to tell Lovelace’s story, with numerous writers and directors and stars circling and abandoning different projects, perhaps recognizing the difficulties of adequately depicting a woman mostly famous for her aptitude with blowjobs and then her subsequent disgust at said aptitude.
It’s a tale that finally had its premiere on Tuesday (January 22) night at the Sundance Film Festival with Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s “Lovelace.”
Screenwriter Andy Bellin has solved many of the contradictions in Lovelace’s life by ignoring them entirely. “Lovelace” is a flat and superficially arced film that relies on a little linear trickery to create the illusion of complexities that are sorely lacking. The resulting film is superficial and flat and wastes a transformative, gung-ho performance by leading lady Amanda Seyfried and an amusing supporting cast that seems to be appearing in four or five different movies.
When Stanley Kubrick‘s “Lolita” was released in 1962, it drummed up curiosity with the tagline “How did they ever make a movie of ‘Lolita’?” I suspect a similar tactic could be used to generate initial interest in “Lovelace” before audiences discover the answer to the question “How did they ever make a movie about Linda Lovelace?” is “As blandly as possible.”
Bellin’s “Lovelace” script is all about compression. One second, Linda is a nervous prude sunning in the backyard with her more adventurous bestie (Juno Temple, whose life destiny seems to starring in small movies and vanishing from bigger movies at the half-way point), the next minute she’s meeting Peter Sarsgaard‘s Chuck Traynor, who teaches her everything she needs to know about oral sex, and then she’s appearing in “Deep Throat” and becoming a sensation. Then, “Six years later,” she’s submitting to a polygraph test and decrying her former life, prompting the story to circle back on itself to show a darker underbelly we didn’t know about.
Except that we pretty much did know about it. While Sarsgaard’s performance has slightly varying shades of “wacko,” it’s all still wacko nonetheless. That Linda Lovelace fell for the wrong man who made her do bad things and that she eventually regretted them is the simplest and least interesting interpretation of her story, but it’s the only version Bellin and Epstein & Friedman seem to have been able to bring to the screen.
Read more about the review here