Picture a less accomplished Boogie Nights, told from the perspective of Rollergirl if she had an abusive husband, and you pretty much have Lovelace. Cribbing almost by necessity from P.T. Anderson’s 1997 classic, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film about the titular star of Deep Throat, née Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried), suggests that the world of pornography is a small one, populated by similar character types and origin stories. Featuring some of the same era-appropriate songs as the Dirk Diggler story, Linda’s saga is similarly jump-started by an oppressive mother (Sharon Stone) whose cruel conservatism here lands her daughter in the arms of faux gentleman Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). In the style of other fact-based meteoric rises, as this savior’s true evil colors inevitably shine through, the narrative sheds it glamorous luster and steers the film in a direction that, though generally engaging and well acted, is also throughly unpleasant.
While the likes of Hank Azaria, Chris Noth, and Juno Temple make strong impressions in limited screen time and Sarsgaard is a pro at being rotten, Seyfried does little but satisfactorily progress the story. Sporting a “New Yowk” accent at random moments, in line with the inconsistent employ of a grainy ‘70s filter, the charismatically challenged beauty is also done questionable favors by a twisted timeline. A creative alternative to the average chronological biopic, Andy Bellin’s script shows the positive aspects first, then revisits the moments to fill in the unsavory blanks. Though the angle answers many questions that the opening acts intentionally leave hanging, by the time the gaps are smoothed over, the accumulation of malice has long since overmatched the benefits of tricky storytelling. Even with the revelation of Deep Throat as Linda’s triumphal escape and the ultimate message of self-empowerment, the excess of savagery along the way makes Lovelace a difficult, barely rewarding view.
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and some domestic violence.
Lovelace is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.