Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Lovelace tats a tale of humiliation and degradation within the early days of the porn industry. This isn't the biopic originally intended as a comeback vehicle for Lindsay Lohan. The media circus that is Lohan's life was cited as the main reason for her dismissal from Inferno which, according to IMDB, is still in production.
In this telling, Amanda Seyfried stars as America's first porn superstar, a woman whose ability to perform oral sex made her a household name and a TV comedian's dream come true. A frequent punch line in Johnny Carson's late night monologues (a couple of which are included), Lovelace went prime time with Bob Hope's confession that before attending a screening at the Pussycat Theatre (it was arranged by Sammy Davis, Jr.) he thought Deep Throat, was a movie about a giraffe.
Hey, I wanna' tell ya', the only deep throat Bob ever got around the house was when Dolores sang.
The film closely follows Lovelace's autobiography, Ordeal. When first picked up by future agent, husband, and pimpologist extraordinaire, Chuck Traynor (Peter Saarsgard) Linda Boreman was an upidstay chick go-go dancing at a roller rink, the type of wide-eyed naif surprised to learn that the actors in The French Connection "speak American."
Was the estate of Linda Marchiano (her married name at the time of her death in a 2002 car accident) somehow involved in the production? Why else would the talented writing, directing team of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet, Howl) settle for a classic portrait of a "poor me"?
According to the film, Linda Lovelace was the girl who didn't want to disappoint anybody, most of all Traynor and a mother (Sharon Stone, giving it her best Cruela De Vil) who responds to her daughter's pleas for shelter with talk of broken wedding vows and encouragement to stand by her man for better or worse.
The enormous cast of familiar faces -- notably Hank Azaria (all is forgiven for Smurfs 2), Bobby Cannavale, and Chris Noth as the trio of pornographers who saw gold in them thar tonsils, and Robert Patrick as Linda's whipped old man -- are what keep it interesting. Going behind-the-scenes during the making of Deep Throat leaves the audience begging for more period flavor and fewer scenes of helpless victimization.
A short phone conversation between father and daughter, where dad shamefully admits to having walked out on his baby's big screen debut, provides the film with it's most heartfelt and powerful moment. Other than a brief expression of concern from a long lost friend (Juno Temple), it's the only moment in the film where Lovelace is shown any genuine love.
Both professional flesh peddler Hugh Hefner (James Franco) and candy man, Sammy Davis, Jr. are featured players in Lovelace's autobiography. According to Ms. Lovelace's tome, Hefner encouraged her to have sex with a dog while he looked on (she didn't), while Sammy expressed interest in learning how to practice Lovelace's art on Traynor (he did, man). Neither story is so much as hinted at.
And what's with the Afro on Sammy Davis, Jr. (Ron Pritchard), man? Sammy used the Exxon Valdez for pomade. There was no way a curl was going to fight its way out from underneath his matted down fringe.
In the end, the directorial team's one stab at stylistic expression is a fade-in to fade-out layer of golf ball-size grain, similar to the sandpaper texture you'd find in a '70's porn. Thank heavens they didn't have the budget for 3D.
Reader Rating: Two Stars
Lovelace is currently playing at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15. Click for showtimes.
Related: Linda Lovelace’s local adventures generated over 10 million San Diego dollars, Jay Allen Sanford's exceptional blow-by-blow history of the selling of a porn classic.
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