Released in 1972, Deep Throat was a phenomenon, eventually raking in over $600 million; it brought porn into the mainstream, and made a star out of Linda Lovelace who was paid just $1,250 for her appearance. The film became such a big part of pop culture that celebrities lined up to see it, and the then managing editor of The Washington Post, chose “Deep Throat” as the code name for a central figure in the Watergate scandal. Little did they know, Linda Lovelace was being abused at the same time they were marveling at her “abilities.”
After suffering through an unplanned pregnancy and subsequent adoption, twenty-year old Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) has moved with her strict parents John (Robert Patrick) and Dorothy (Sharon Stone), from Long Island, New York to Davie, Florida. Given her desire to have fun, and how stifled Linda feels at home, it comes as no surprise when she is easily taken with a smooth talker named Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). While her best friend (Juno Temple) is understandably suspicious of Chuck, Linda’s parents, particularly her mother, seem happy to make Linda someone else’s concern.
Chuck and Linda tie the knot, and Chuck goes full-on sleazy, videotaping his wife’s oddly disturbing ability to suppress her gag reflex, showing it to director Gerard Damiano (Hank Azaria) and shady producer Anthony Romano (Chris Noth) and landing her the part in Deep Throat. Linda Lovelace was born. Thrust into the spotlight after the film becomes a surprise phenomenon, Linda appears to enjoy the attention, but the truth is much darker. Traynor we learn, was a nightmare of a husband—an abuser and a rapist, willing to sell his wife to the highest bidder. In Linda, he found the perfect victim. When Linda runs to her parents home after being prostituted and abused by Chuck, her mother refuses to let her stay there, insisting her duty as a wife is to go back to her husband.
For much of its first half, Lovelace plays out similarly to a watered down Boogie Nights. It’s insights into the porn industry, and the genuine 1970’s porn aesthetic is interesting. Linda exudes a girl-next-door sensuousness, not yet beaten down by Chuck and the porn industry. The making of Deep Throat is tastefully recreated; with only a few brief hints of horrors at home (bruises on Linda’s legs are the first indication). Peter Sarsgaard’s Chuck is the perfect mix of slick seducer and controlling psychopath. During the film’s second act, Linda becomes a total victim, and Chuck an utter psychopath. Any kind of character complexity or plot depth is abandoned by directors Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman and screenwriter Andy Bellin.
Despite the issues with the second half, Amanda Seyfried does a fine job in the title role. She really shines in the first half where scenes allow. Unfortunately, the second half gives her little more to do than cower in the corner. Likewise, Peter Sarsgaard does a great job of developing Chuck into a real villain, until the second half goes too far, turning him into a cartoonish bully.
A nearly unrecognizable Sharon Stone and Robert Patrick do a fine job in their role as Linda’s strict parents. By the end of the film, you get the idea that they understand they might have made some mistakes with their daughter. Ultimately, they want her in their lives. There are some high-profile cameos: James Franco is horribly miscast as Hugh Hefner; Eric Roberts, Wes Bentley, and Chloe Sevigny are seen very briefly.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Lovelace was filmed to look like the 1970’s era it took place in. Grainy and dark, thing tend to look a bit too dark at times. but I applaud the filmmaker’s attempts at authenticity. Beyond that, detail is quite good, though skin tones look a bit red. The transfer is certainly reliable.
Lovelace has a surprisingly strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Music is given a wide range, and balanced surround. Dialogue is the prominent feature, and enjoys solid, center presence throughout, and comes through clearly.
English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are available.
The following special features are included:
- Behind Lovelace (HD, 13:57) Cast and crew recall the life of Linda Lovelace, and it’s depiction in the film. It also takes a look at some of the filmmaking elements.