"Lovelace," the new biopic about adult-film celebrity Linda Lovelace, stars Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard and Sharon Stone. Entertainment Weekly's contributing critic Owen Gleiberman filed the following review.
There have been any number of movies about the adult-film industry, yet "Deep Throat," the 1972 film that launched the porn revolution, marked such a seismic change in American life that it's startling, and often funny, to watch "Lovelace," the new biopic of Linda Lovelace, and realize how small-scale the whole saga really was, at least in the beginning.
When it starts, Linda Boreman, played by Amanda Seyfried under a nimbus of dark curls, is just a petite, giggly 21-year-old Catholic girl living with her folks in suburban Florida.
Then, she meets Chuck Traynor, played by Peter Sarsgaard. He's one of those sleazy, violent reptile sociopaths that the movies have always loved.
When the two run into money troubles, he takes Linda to a porn film audition, and though it's tempting to say that the rest is history, the joke is that no one has any idea how big this movie is going to be.
"Lovelace" was co-directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who borrow a lot from "Boogie Nights" in portraying the 1970s as a scrappy exuberant time of bad clothes and blender margaritas.
But they also do something audacious. The movie gives us a version of Linda's days of infamy that is lusty and star-spangled and relatively harmless. Then, it pushes the rewind button and replays those same incidents, only this time with darker scenes that ominously fill in the events.
In the second half, we get Linda Lovelace's hindsight version, where she claimed that she'd been abused and coerced into the porn world.
The movie lures us into the swirling days of porno-chic, then pulls the wool off of our eyes. But in a funny way, it ends up saying that both versions are true.
There's some sensational acting in Lovelace. Chris Noth plays the mobster who is Deep Throat's principal backer, and he's fiercely convincing. Sharon Stone, who viewers literally won't recognize, plays Linda's uptight, domineering, silent-majority mother and burrows so deep into the role that she gives you a chill. As for Amanda Seyfried, she brings Linda Lovelace to life.
Lovelace spent all of 17 days in the sex-film industry, and was really just an ordinary girl who tumbled into a tacky, insane version of celebrity. She was never meant to be a porn star. But then, the movie leaves you with the question: Who really is?