by Glenn Lovell
P.T. Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” aside, movies about the inner workings of the porn industry have been a snooze. I’d like say that the heavily hyped “Lovelace,” starring Amanda Seyfried as the embattled Linda Lovelace (nee Linda Boreman), is another exception, but I can’t. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, former documentarians, this behind-the-scenes peek at the making of “Deep Throat” ‒ the “‘Gone with the Wind’ of pornography” ‒ is everything a movie about the porn industry shouldn’t be ‒ earnest, evenhanded, cautious to the point of being misleading.
In the age of Internet porn, “Lovelace” feels positively antiquated.
The feeling one comes away with is that Epstein and Friedman operated with a couple of lawyers looking over their shoulders. If you’ve read Lovelace’s memoir “Ordeal,” you’ll wonder where the really juicy stuff wound up. Probably on the cutting room floor. Even a cursory glance at Lovelace’s Wikipedia page provides a more complex and well-rounded picture of the porn star than this film, which works hard to whitewash Lovelace’s reputation, even leaving us with the impression that she “spent 17 days in the pornography business” and only appeared in one feature. (She appeared in several other hardcore features, including “Deep Throat Part II.”)
The directors tells the story “Rashomon” style from multiple perspectives. The first half of “Lovelace” shows the love. It’s the XXX Cinderella fable, with Linda being swept off her feet by Miami club owner Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) and becoming the toast of the porno chic sets, hobnobbing with Sammy Davis Jr. (Ron Prichard) and Hugh Hefner (a smirking James Franco). This take is funny, over-the-top, especially when we’re introduced to the Fellini of porn, Gerard Damiano (Hank Azaria, walking off with his every scene).
“We’re making a movie here,” says Damino’s assistant. “On 35mm. Gerry even wrote a script!”
“42 pages!” Damiano chimes in.
“You hear that? Forty-two fucking pages!”
The second half deals with the grim reality — the disillusionment, the abuse, the betrayal by her religious-fanatic mother (an unrecognizable Sharon Stone), who blames her daughter when things don’t work out in the connubial bedroom.