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Sundance 2013 Review: Lovelace

'A solid biography that delivers on the legend and emotion.'

Lovelace has been one of the industry’s most anticipated movies regardless of its Sundance premiere. There have been competing Linda Lovelace projects, Lindsay Lohan was attached to one, and the story of America’s first adult film superstar has its own cachet regardless. With all those expectations, Lovelace is a solid biography that delivers on the legend and emotion.

Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) doesn’t have a great relationship with her parents (Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick), but she’s a sweet and happy girl, dancing and playing with her friend Patsy (Juno Temple). She meets Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) who discovers a special talent she has and sells her to some movie producers. That movie became Deep Throat.

Lovelace is a lean biography, sticking to the events surrounding Deep Throat and the immediate aftermath up to six years later. This gives it a tight focus, if not the epic quality many biographies strive for and more often than not fail to achieve anyway. The film has a light touch so all the porno scenes feel playful, certainly not judgmental, and when the dramatic consequences are revealed they make more of an impact.

Seyfried is adorable in Linda’s audition, rehearsals with Harry Reems (Adam Brody) and re-enactments of Deep Throat’s dialogue scenes. The guys behind the cameras are lovable scamps in awe of her, and mimicking the Hollywood business in its sleazy counterpart. Seyfried looks beautiful with the curly hair and freckles of Linda Lovelace, the name the producers gave her for the movie. Her first nude scene is a tasteful tease with hair draped over her breasts, and when she is fully topless in love scenes and photo shoots, she totally seduces us.

The film has an effective way of bringing up the dark side of Lovelace’s experience in a way that’s not heavy-handed, doesn’t make us feel bad for enjoying the fun part, but forces us to acknowledge there was more to this story than we saw in the first half of the movie, let alone if we ever enjoyed a viewing of Deep Throat ourselves. This narrative device avoids the clichés of “sex is bad” morality and condescending. Now it’s just real.

Linda’s fame itself makes it hard for her to ask for help, illustrated in some scenes that remind us we all assume we know celebrities. If we saw one in trouble, would we be able to see through our start struck hype and help her? A few of those scenes are a bit obvious but they feel true. Some of the darkness and aftermath may feel familiar, only because it’s such a familiar story of bad influences and abusive relationships. Sarsgaard is certainly effective showing Traynor’s violent side.

I really liked Lovelace and there may even be room for another biography if they choose to fill in some of the other periods in her life, and if they can ever lock down an alternate cast. If they don’t, this movie stands as a respectful, sympathetic portrait of an icon with a healthy balance of titillation, nostalgia and truth.

 

Don't miss Crave's interview with Lovelace star Amanda Seyfried

And make sure to check out all of Crave Online's coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival here!

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Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.

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