The biopic of 70s porn star Linda Boreman edits out a crucial aspect of her life: her empowering role in the women's movement
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 26 January 2013 05.00 EST
This week, at the Sundance film festival in Park City, Utah, excited crowds filed into a theater for Lovelace, a new film about 1970s porn star Linda Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (both of The Times of Harvey Milk). A group of mostly Mormon protesters stood dourly outside the packed house. They objected to the film's sexual content.
In a Q&A session, a producer rather autocratically dismissed the protesters. She would have done better to have had a screening for them; they would have found much to like.
The movie details the rise, fall, and rebirth of a young woman, Linda Boreman, who leaves her repressive family for the manipulative Chuck Traynor. His violent control transforms her into a "spokesmodel" for fellatio in the first porn film to be mass-marketed, Deep Throat. Finally, she begins a new life with a new family. It is a highly conventional narrative about women and sexuality, and it will hit the sweet spot for a wide audience.
Though they cast Boreman sympathetically – Seyfried plays her as a passive, pliable victim – the filmmakers let the camera linger on titillating shots of her naked nubility, and showed graphic scenes of oral sex. Then, they try to undercut the audiences' arousal by splicing in horrifying images of Linda's abuse and degradation at the hands of her brutal manager-husband.
The real Linda managed to escape, and eventually co-wrote a memoir about the cruelty she suffered, even while she was feted by society (her husband actually had her gang-raped for money at one point, and held her at gunpoint during sex scenes). This screenplay, though, attributes her redemption solely to her second husband and child.