Howl directors, primarily documentary-focused, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman premiered their second full-length feature film Lovelace at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. There came the announcement the same day of the premiere that RADiUS-TWC will pick the film up for a fall 2013 release.
Lovelace is the story of famed 1972 Deep Throat pornography actress Linda Boreman, aka Linda Lovelace (played by Amanda Seyfried), and her tumultuous career and eventual escape from violently abusive husband and manager Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard). Only Trust scribe Andy Bellin’s second screenplay, Lovelace has a nicely eclectic cast including Adam Brody, Sharon Stone , Robert Patrick , Juno Temple , Wes Bentley, Hank Azaria, Eric and James Franco who produced BDSM documentary kink, also playing at the festival this year.
The unfolding of Lovelace begins by first showing us the fast-paced and often passionate beginnings of a shy Linda Boreman and charming Chuck Traynor’s relationship and eventual marriage. Then comes her entry into the porn industry as a way to help her husband with his financial difficulties by using a particular skill, and then proceeds to open our eyes to the violence and terrorizing control that really happened by revisiting the scenes from a different angle.
In real life, Linda Boreman left the industry and attempted to tell her story of physical and mental abuse and forced rape and prostitution at the hands of Traynor, but was discredited by many who claimed her to be a pathological liar and sadist until finally proving her truth via polygraph. I’ll admit, going into the film I was a bit skeptical about Amanda Seyfried’s ability to portray such a controversial and challenging role as the battered porn star that spends the years following her life in the industry speaking out against pornography and domestic violence. Seyfried, though, has come a long way since Mean Girls and makes it clear with her role as Lovelace that she demands to be taken seriously, distancing herself from the typical romantic lead type-cast and diving headfirst into a role with a large amount of nudity, violence and convincingly portrayed fear, perpetrated by Peter Sarsgaard as Traynor.
Sarsgaard is frighteningly believable in his role, seducing us at first with his charismatic drawl as he attempts to build Boreman into his own personal sex-pot, and later chilling us to our core as his cold gaze monitors her every move in between regular beatings, pimping and even rape. Sarsgaard claims that he did not research the actual Chuck Traynor’s mannerisms, which is even more impressive because he was able to almost mirror what our perception of Boreman’s descriptions of Traynor would be, and furthermore perfectly brought to life not only a specific person, but an ideal foreign to us in an age where it is no longer taboo for the abused to speak out on their suffering due to societal standards.
Notably, Stone owns her role as the harsh mother who has accepted her unhappy life, and expects Boreman to do the same, and Patrick moved audience members to tears as her father during his touching interaction with Boreman post-Deep Throat. Performances also worthy of mentioning are Adam Brody, who has sort of a brotherly, polar-opposite of Chuck Traynor role as the male co-star in Deep Throat, Juno Temple as the best friend of Boreman who is forced out of her life by the controlling Traynor, and Chris Noth who plays a financier for the Deep Throat films as well as a helping hand later on.
Lovelace gives us a very sad look into the long period of unrelenting abuse of someone who is iconic in her industry, convincing in portrayal by all lead and supporting rolls, and celebrates her final achievement as she is able to tell her story in order to help others in the same situation.
I recommend this film to anyone who isn’t afraid to see one perspective of the often avoided topic of abuse in the porn industry, and appreciate this woman’s ability to fight her way to revelation unlike so many others at that time and even today.