Sunday, February 09, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Lovelace (2013) **½

R, 93 min.
Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Freidman
Writer: Andy Bellin
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Noth, Sharon Stone, Juno Temple, Robert Patrick, Bobby Cannavale, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Wes Bentley, Eric Roberts, Chloë Sevigny

“Lovelace” tells the story of porn star Linda Lovelace. Lovelace was famous for her role in the film “Deep Throat”. She later denounced pornography and wrote the best selling book “Ordeal” in which she claimed she had been forced into the porn industry by her abusive and controlling husband and manager Chuck Traynor.

“Lovelace” is a bit truncated in terms of information, but its structure tells her story in a compelling way. The filmmakers first tell her story as a porn star as it may have been perceived at the time. It isn’t a fairy tale, there is no illusion that the porn industry or a hasty marriage with a man willing to place his own wife into the porn industry is any sort of dream come true, but Lovelace’s choices are what leads her there and guides her through it. Then the filmmakers go back to the beginning and fill in some of the blank spaces. The second time through, it becomes easier to understand how she might’ve been manipulated into doing something she never really wanted and how her husband’s violent nature would make her feel as if she had no choices in the matter.

There is still far too much left out of the story. I don’t know why the filmmakers limited themselves to a 90 minute running time. These characters deserved more time for the audience to explore their choices and lives. Peter Sarsgaard doesn’t portray Traynor entirely unsympathetically, but there is no exploration as to why he is so loving at first before he becomes such a monster. The producer of “Deep Throat”, as portrayed by Chris Noth, is instrumental in getting Lovelace away from Traynor, but why? I find it hard to believe that any sort of moral center motivates a prono producer.

Seyfried’s Lovelace is a confused girl who is trying to escape controlling parents after their attempts to control a family scandal from a teen pregnancy. Sharon Stone is very good as her mother, even though she’s not given much with which to work. Lovelace is fully developed, but the world around her and the people who control it are not. The structure is unique and enlightening about Lovelace’s life, but there are just too many holes left in the entire portrait to be satisfying.

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