Lovelace is evenly divided into two parts. The first half depicts her willing participation in becoming a celebrated porn star. The second half reveals Lovelace’s version of the story, in which she was beaten, raped and prostituted. It’s a clever structure that mirrors the public’s awareness of her story. Yet it also robs the film of much of its potential impact.
After clumsily opening with the question “Who’s the real Linda Lovelace?”, the movie wastes no time establishing the era that Deep Throat became a phenomenon. Meeting Chuck Traynor while dancing at a roller disco, Lovelace soon falls under his spell. Six months after their marriage she is performing in a pornographic movie to help with their bills.
But this wasn’t just any porno. As opposed to the more common B&W loops of filmed sex-acts, Deep Throat had a 42-page script, a week-long shooting schedule and dialogue that had to be memorised! Released theatrically, it was a huge hit and ushered in the Golden Age of Porn. Apparently riding high on her new-found celebrity, Lovelace had dreams of becoming a real film-star. Flash forward six years and we find her strapped to a lie-detector telling the uncomfortable truth behind her relationship with Traynor.
Here the biopic repeats several scenes with an alternate view of proceedings. In doing so, the story’s narrative drive is impeded. Despite great performances by Seyfried and Sarsgaard, the film lacks an emotional punch, only superficially answering the question it posed for itself at the start.
Lovelace’s version of events have been supported and disputed by fellow cast members and crew. Nevertheless, her depiction as a wide-eyed innocent who recites Baa Baa Black Sheep at the Deep Throat audition is somewhat disingenuous given she had already performed in porn, including a bestiality film titled Dogarama.
Limited by the pornographic nature of the film it depicts, Lovelace still manages to recreate a few scenes from Deep Throat.