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Linda Lovelace – a review

Photo Credit: Adam & Eve

Like all Linda Lovelace fans, I was excited to hear that her life was being made into a motion picture. To say the least, her story of a small-town girl from a seemingly normal family who went on to become a porn icon is unique and captivating. I had high hopes that 2013′s Lovelace would be more popular than similar precursory tales Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy (2001) and Inside Deep Throat, a 2005 documentary about the movie that made Lovelace famous. But unfortunately, the eagerly awaited movie didn’t impress critics or fans alike. It floundered at the box office, only achieving a worldwide gross of $1.6 million.

On paper, it had everything going for it to make it a hit. First, it appealed to a wide audience. Sex, drugs, love, action, drama, and even a sprinkle of comedy mixed in should have made this film as much of a guilty pleasure as Magic Mike. Also, everyone loves to peek behind the curtains of an industry that is so far from their own normal lives. If you’ve ever flipped through the channels and landed on CNBC, you’ve likely come across one of their most successful specials, Porn: The Business of Pleasure. It offered a behind-the-scenes look into the daily lives of porn stars and the realities of the industry. The special was so popular that they even made it available for consumer purchase.

So with all the money and production values available to reveal the same information from a personal position, you’d be right to assume that Lovelace would have attracted an even larger audience than a news spotlight. In addition, the cast list for this film was phenomenal. A critic for Yahoo Movies rated the film positively, labeling it as one of the “Must See Films Beyond the Blockbusters.” They said the casting was one of the stellar points from co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, adding that they “corralled a stellar cast that piles on great performances, from Seyfried’s freckle-faced femme fatale with the hot body and the doe eyes to Sarsgaard’s menacing lady-killer with the 70′s perm.”

There were also star performances from A-list actors like Sharon Stone, Chris Noth, Chloë Sevigny, Bobby Cannavale, and Juno Temple, among others. James Franco even played a part in the film as a young Hugh Hefner.

The Movie Report gave the film a positive review, awarding it 4/5 stars. They said that “Seyfried holds the entire film and its structural conceit together” and that “the core of relatable vulnerability and flawed humanity Seyfried brings lends the film a lasting resonance.” They also praised the performances of Sarsgaard, saying he pulled off the magnetism and charisma necessary for the audience to believe why Lovelace would be attracted to him. The review highlight the performances of secondary characters, too, such as the one portrayed by Sharon Stone. She played Lovelace’s strict disciplinarian mother, a role they said was the first one she seemed locked into as an actor since she appeared in Casino.

So where did it all go wrong?

Some critics, like Todd Gilchrist of The Wrap, believed Lovelace’s character fell flat partially because of the time period of Lovelace’s life that the film limited itself to. Instead of showcasing her before and after her stint in porn—and how she grew and changed as a result—the film focused primarily on the height of her fame, portraying her as nothing more than a doe-eyed victim.

However, the fault certainly doesn’t lie with Seyfried’s portrayal. Like Yahoo Movies, Gilchrist made a point to say that every actor within the film did the best that they could with what they were given. This opinion, funny enough, is actually shared by critics who praised and panned the movie.

Unfortunately, even with these talented actors, the film was still a failure.

The fault lies with the writers and production crew. The story was there, but the execution was flawed. The talent was present, but the lack of character development hindered the actors’ abilities. And although the source material was enough to raise eyebrows, poor promotion left theaters empty.

But for fans looking for a bright side, there have been plenty of films in the past that have given new life to previously exposed stories. Directors have been doing it for decades, as there are multiple biopics of famous actors, performers, humanitarians, and politicians. Hopefully we can look forward to someone doing the same with Lovelace’s story in the future. Politics don’t always hold a viewer’s attention, but porn certainly does.

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