JUICY, HORRIFYING, and controversial, Linda Lovelace's life—throughout which she went from prude teen, to famous (and famously abused) Deep Throat porn actress, to feminist spokesperson—is rich material for a film. But in the hands of directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Lovelace is disappointingly simplified.
In brief: Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) was raised in a religious home. Only a few years into adulthood, she met and married Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), who she said beat, coerced, and pimped her, forcing her to appear in several pornographic films—including a bestiality short she claimed to have participated in at gunpoint. Eventually she escaped life with Traynor, wrote several autobiographies, including the tell-all Ordeal, and became an activist against domestic violence and the porn industry.
Lovelace deals primarily with the nightmarish Lovelace-Traynor relationship and Deep Throat, completely ignoring her other film appearances and drug abuse. Lovelace is portrayed as an incredibly naïve, anxious-to-please victim. This is Lovelace according to Lovelace, full of childlike innocence and heroism, and it's a missed opportunity to explore the fascinating, still-controversial mysteries that surround her.
Certain aspects are in place: Seyfried and Sarsgaard give strong performances, as does a nearly unrecognizable Sharon Stone as Lovelace's mother. The set design and fashion are on-mark, and James Franco is almost credible as a young Hugh Hefner. And considering the subject matter, it's quite tastefully filmed, although pairing further restraint with an already amputated script drains even more blood from a story that deserves a more complete—and more thought-provoking—telling.