Lovelace (R)

Drama 92 August 9, 2013
By Amy Nicholson
By her own admission, Linda Lovelace spent the '70s hypnotized and stoned and the '80s as a born-again Christian who suffered from PTSD and a fragmented personality. In Lovelace, when the administer of a polygraph asks her, "Is your name Linda Lovelace?" she pales and pleads, "Can we start with an easier question?" Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman don't have an answer, either. Instead, they punt, believing in all Lindas-- the innocent kid who thinks oral sex is "disgusting," the porno sweetheart, the avenging angel-- and giving the audience blue balls. Opening with disco rollerskating and a Boogie Nights font, Lovelace tricks us into thinking it's a retro romp starring Hollywood's most literally wide-eyed ingenue, the otherworldly beauty Amanda Seyfried. She plays Lovelace as both shy and eager, a contradiction that doesn't add up, and when Seyfried looks at an offscreen penis, she seems to be thinking, "Whiz jeepers! Is that for me?" Rather than make sense of the Deep Throat star's contradictory history, Lovelace chooses to be a one-person Rashomon. In the first half, Seyfried plays her as a sex doll in her own biopic, a bit of shiny plastic. In the second, Lovelace returns to the day she married Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) and shines a flashlight on the abuse Linda-- and everyone else-- thought she deserved. This narrative rewind gives us new facts and a whole heap of crying scenes, but no added insight into Linda's mind-- she's still as empty as an inflatable toy.
Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman Amanda Seyfried, James Franco, Wes Bentley, Chloë Sevigny, Juno Temple, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sharon Stone, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Brody, Eric Roberts, Chloë Sevigny Andy Bellin RADiUS-TWC