Reviewed by: Max Crawford

Have you ever wondered what really went on in the life of Linda Lovelace, star of notorious Seventies porn flick Deep Throat? I haven't, but then I'm a product of the Eighties and I suspect I'm not really the target audience. Still, someone decided it was worth taking a (somewhat lopsided) look at Linda's life, and you know what? They were right.

Lovelace is an immersive film. It immerses you in the trappings of the 1970s: the fashions, the attitudes, the grain of fast film stock. It immerses you in the early life of Linda Susan Boreman: from her family home to falling in with future husband Chuck Traynor and the beginnings of her movie career. It lets you get to know her in a surprisingly short span - she's sympathetic, easily likeable - and then it immerses you in horror.

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Not sensational, flashy, Hollywood horror, but the everyday humdrum horror of sheer human awfulness. Lighthearted moments from the first half of the film are revisited and given context that casts them in a far more disturbing light. There are hints of Chuck's abusiveness throughout, but it's only as the film progresses that we discover he's a rapist, a wife-beater and a pimp. Worse, perhaps, is the number of people who seemingly realise but turn a blind eye. It's a clever juxtaposition of emotional notes only slightly undermined by the wide-eyed innocence of Linda and the nigh-cartoonish villainy of almost everyone else.

A lesser cast would have a hard time selling this black and white narrative in 1970s Eastmancolor, but everyone here excels. Peter Sarsgaard somehow grounds Chuck Traynor's excesses in a believable, charismatic figure. An almost unrecognisable Sharon Stone turns in a tremendous performance as Linda's mother. It's Amanda Seyfried as Linda herself, however, who truly steals the show. Even as you know you're being somewhat clumsily manipulated, you can't help but feel for her. The harrowing latter half of the film could easily have become alienating, but Seyfried makes it compelling.

Essentially, Lovelace is a sensationalised morality tale based loosely on real events. For a more in-depth look at Linda's brief film career, check out Inside Deep Throat. For a broader look at the US porn industry of the 1970s, pick up Boogie Nights. For an engaging, and often chilling look at the horrors of domestic violence, though, you could do a lot worse than to watch Lovelace.

Reviewed on: 26 Aug 2013
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The story of Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace.
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Director: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Writer: Andy Bellin

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, James Franco, Sharon Stone

Year: 2013

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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