I passed on seeing Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s 2013 biopic Lovelace at the cinema (I might have made the effort if they did a special screening at the Crazy Horse), but caught up with it on Blu-ray earlier today. It’s an uneven work from the co-directors of The Celluloid Closet and Howl, but I still found a lot to like about it. Amanda Seyfried certainly delivers a strong and pretty brave performance, even if I didn’t buy her as Linda Lovelace most of the time. But she gets very strong support from Peter Sarsgaard as her flakey yet domineering and abusive husband/manager Chuck Traynor, an unrecognisable (and brilliant) Sharon Stone as Linda’s mother, and the great Debi Mazar as Dolly Sharp, Lovelace’s more mature co-star in Deep Throat. In his bright pastel blue suit with flared collars, Chris Noth is also terrific as Anthony Romano, the mob figure who financed the infamous 1972 porn film.
The film has a strange structure to it, it’s basically divided up as two 45 minute films, each one telling the same story from two different angles - firstly, from the sunny surface perspective, where everything and everyone seems happy and content for the most part, and then from a more intimate and much darker point of view, where all the physical and emotional abuse, as well as Linda's enforced coercion into a life of porn and prostitution, is revealed. In retrospect, it’s an intriguing way to structure the film, and the filmmakers do it quite cleverly and engagingly, but on initial viewing I think the film suffers a little because of it, as I started feeling a little detached from the story twenty minutes into it, thinking the film was just playing it safe by avoiding a lot of the uglier material that the Lovelace story contains. The film takes the viewer up to the point where her 1980 autobiography, Ordeal, is published, culminating in her famous appearance on The Donohue Show.