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USA 2013
Directed by
Rob Epstein / Jeffrey Friedman
93 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3 stars


Synopsis: In 1972 the film Deep Throat turned the world of pornography on its head. It was the first such film with a real script and to get a mainstream theatrical release. Its star, Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) had girl-next-door looks accompanied by an impressive gift for fellatio. At the time Linda seemed like a spokesperson for the sexual revolution but her life was far darker under the thumb of seemingly-charming but abusive husband Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard).  

I had few expectations for this film but came away pleasantly surprised. Whether it presents the total “truth” about Lovelace’s sad and sorry story is not known to me but the details portrayed here are shockingly magnetic. The credibility is a testament to the research and directorial abilities of the two helmsmen, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who come from a documentary background, their most recent effort being Howl. Couple this with a pair of excellent performances by the two leads along with a swag of top actors in smaller roles and you have something worthy of a look.

Despite moments of explicitness, to its credit Lovelace doesn’t aim to shock, rather it shows the very sad and sordid side of the porn industry.  Opening with an archetypal 70s soundtrack, the film introduces us to fresh-faced Linda Boreman, sunbaking and sneaking a cigarette before her straight-laced, religious mother (an unrecognisable Sharon Stone), comes home to deliver a diatribe on the way young girls ought to behave. Like many teens, Linda just wants to have fun, and while at a beach party meets the charismatic Chuck, who presents himself so appealingly, even the Boreman parents are hoodwinked. But soon Linda is kicked out by her mother and heads off not only to live with but to marry Chuck who soon shows his true colours.

Linda’s downhill journey is initially shown as part of a pseudo-glamorous world of entrepreneurs and movie making.  Linda, now with her new porno surname, Lovelace, is introduced by Chuck to producer Anthony Romano (Chris Noth) and his sleazy sidekicks Butchie (Bobby Cannavale) and Gerry (Hank Azaria).  She seems happy enough to be the freckle-faced cute star, performing her special trick on co-star Harry Reems (Adam Brody) and her dazzling real-life world even includes people like Hugh Hefner (James Franco) and Sammy Davis Jnr. (Ron Pritchard).

But all is not as it seems and from a whirlwind of success, fawning admirers and glorious prospects we  fast forward to “six years later” and see the other side of the story – a woman married to a controlling, abusive man who virtually pimped her out to other men and forced her to be the “star” of the world’s most famous porn film. The role her bible-bashing mother plays is also part of the tragedy.

Seyfried imbues Linda with not only sexiness, but a sort of counter-indicative naivete and fragility. Sarsgaard perfectly captures the contradictions of the beastly Chuck – a man who not only has never grown up but who exudes dangerous charm along with his misogynistic traits.  

As a snapshot of the early '70s and a world just discovering sexual freedom, the film works well. We see audiences laughing as they watch the real Deep Throat (which, incidentally, is unexpectedly funny), whilst the Afro hair, flared trousers, and excellent soundtrack all put us in the frame. But underneath it all, the real message of the danger of an industry that demeans women and of the sort of men who populate it is loud, clear, and in the case of Linda, very sad.   




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