‘Lovelace’: like ‘Boogie Nights’ but with a quasi-feminist bottom-line

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My usual film-going pal wasn’t able to make it to the preview of Lovelace, a biopic about 1970s porn star, Linda Lovelace, hence I had to venture into the cinema alone. The movie was just starting, with its neon-like titles flashing across the screen, and I couldn’t help but feel like one of those perv-y men sneaking into an art-house porn film, as I made my way toward an available seat, dodging heads and concerned about whether to face those in my row crotch- or ass-ward.

So on the spot is the retro vibe of the first few moments of Lovelace that this is what it has resorted me feeling like – a cine-perv.

Once settled in, I realised I was here simply to review a movie about a porn star, starring a host of Hollywood actors, and so began the semiotic analysis. My first finding? That Lovelace has that same cool, retro bent as Boogie Nights. The cast is immense, the subject taboo, the soundtrack awesome, and the narrative edited economically – leaving all the boring bits on the cutting room floor, and all the imperative bits intact.

Amanda Seyfried is magical in the lead role of Linda Lovelace, starting out in character as a naïve waif, turning victim, and ultimately evolving into heroine feminist.

Linda Lovelace’s story is a complex one. She was a girl who came from a quasi-dysfunctional family where aloofness ruled the roost (her lackadaisical mother in particular, played with such conviction by Sharon Stone that you don’t realise you’re watching the ex-bombshell until her very last scene).

Peter Sarskaard plays Linda’s abusive husband-come-manager, Chuck, who of all actors in this extensive cast, probably has the most difficult shoes to fill. Chuck is one nasty piece of work. He not only pimps Linda off to a couple of porn-makers, but starts to crave instant cash by hookering her out to a group of dodgy guys. It’s in one particular scene that the audience suddenly feels total sympathy for Linda – for, porn star or otherwise, nobody deserves the violence, pain and trauma of rape.

But Lovelace does have a happy ending, since in real life its protagonist completed just the one porn film – the infamous Deep Throat – and due to the subsequent disrespect and abuse, moved as far away from the adult movie industry as possible to begin a family and write a best-selling book. It’s actually quite surreal seeing Seyfried as a maturer, motherly-like character when delivering an older version of Linda.

The support cast in the film do a superb job – no matter how big or small their individual roles. Chloë Sevigny is in the film for all of one minute yet her character as a feminist journalist of sorts sets the tone for the gender agenda to come. James Franco plays a charismatic Hugh Hefner, lending enough charm to the role that you temporarily forgive Hef for his oft-misogynist regimes.

Also in the mix are Juno Temple, Adam Brody, Eric Roberts, Bobby Carnivale, and even Sarah Jessica Parker sneaking in.

All up, Lovelace is very good viewing. While it appears to turn taboo subjects into light entertainment, it never opts to treat these topics flippantly. 

 

Lovelace is in cinemas September 26.

View the trailer here or click on the still below.