Unsurprisingly Lovelace is not a film full of fun and games, harmless bed filled romps and unnecessarily thorough blow jobs. It is a story of manipulation, domestic abuse, sexual slavery and one woman finding the courage to just say no. Linda Lovelace may have appeared to enjoy the limelight at the height of her fame but she later spoke out against pornography and told a far different story than what the smiles had previously suggested.
The majority of the film dwells on the (relative) highs of Linda's relationship with husband and prime manipulator and abuser Chuck Traynor, only hinting slightly at the darkness that lurked beneath. Finally Lovelace decides to reveal the full story and the sordid details of her relationship with the repulsive Chuck, perfectly played by a never more seedy Peter Sarsgaard. The film then flashes back and fills in the stuff we weren't seeing before; the beatings, the forced prostitution and coercion and the misery that Linda was feeling.
Seyfried is excellent but the surrounding cast also shine with Sharon Stone (virtually unrecognisable) and Robert Patrick as Linda's parents particularly making an impression. Their concerns, advice, reactions and coping with Linda's new found celebrity and the subsequent fall out are the most tragic elements of the story and Stone and Patrick are fantastic in their limited scenes. The pair of performances and the empathetic script make Lovelace's parents both monstrous and deeply sympathetic.
Where Lovelace fails to fully penetrate greatness is that it never feels complete. The story feels half told and therefore fails to have the full impact that it could. Even though it tells its story and then flashes back to re-tell it some more with added details, so much seems missed and the worst excesses of what Linda went through feel skipped over and shied away from. Perhaps directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman desired restraint but I imagine Lovelace's own book Ordeal didn't hold back when it came to her suffering at the hands of Traynor and other men.
Lovelace fails to fully penetrate the dark heart of the story despite some hard core performances from an excellent cast. It is however an eye opening look at an industry that I suspect is only getting more vicious and more worrying as time goes on.
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