This film is a 2013 biographical picture about the life of Linda Boreman, beginning at the age of 20 and going through her marriage to Chuck Traynor and the release of her biography, . Under the trade name of Linda Lovelace, she starred in the 1972 pornographic breakthrough movie Deep Throat and that is her lone claim to fame aside from her biography, Ordeal.
When Linda (Amanda Seyfriend) and her friend Patsy (Juno Temple) dance at the bowling alley on a lark, they are spotted by Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), a young man into drugs and pornography. Although he treats her like a gentleman at first, Linda is having serious trouble at home with her repressive parents John (Robert Patrick) and Dorothy (Sharon Stone). After an incident with her mother, Linda moves in with Chuck and eventually marries him.
Although the film doesn’t show us any kind of abuse throughout the beginning, later flashbacks show us that he raped her over and over and forced her into prostitution against her will, essentially using her sexuality as a way to make money. He takes it to the ultimate level when he forces her to appear in a porno movie, Deep Throat.
While Chuck intended to make a great deal of money from her, the scheme backfires in several ways. In the first place, she was only paid $1,250 for her performance, which made the movie somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 million dollars worldwide. The second problem created by the success of the movie was that Linda Lovelace became an overnight celebrity and it became more difficult to control her. But control her he did, forcing her to use her name on blow-up dolls, dildos, and other paraphernalia while holding out for a bigger film deal.
At one point in the movie, Linda tells Phil Donohue that she was only in the porn industry for 17 days, yet it was the one thing she was always remembered for.
Desperate for money, Traynor sells her to five men. He locks her in a motel room with them so they can beat and sodomize her for hours. At her wits end, she finally runs away and makes a new life for herself.
Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the movie achieves a very high level of filmmaking and it is not hyperbole to say that is a very powerful movie. Amanda Seyfriend is truly outstanding as Linda Lovelace, bringing just the right level of belief in her husband to keep forgiving him until things got so far out of hand that she had to escape. Sharon Stone gives perhaps her best performance ever as her mother Dorothy. Sarsgaard is good as Traynor, but the role is pretty one-note so it’s difficult to give him much more credit.
If the movie suffers from any problem, it is in the way the story is laid out. I understand what the filmmakers were trying to do by showing the story in two different takes. In the first part, they were attempting to show us what people saw at the time—the history we know—then in the second part, they show us what really happened. While I understand the device, I’ve got to say that it wasn’t entirely successful. I think a straight, chronological story line might have worked better or even a retelling beginning with the book Ordeal showing what really happened. I just don’t know. These aesthetic questions are really splitting hairs, but even if you consider this a potential problem, it doesn’t take away any of the power of the movie at all.
As one might suspect, this is an Adults Only film, for mature audiences, not only because of nudity and simulated sex, but because the subject of domestic rape and psychological control requires a certain amount of maturity to understand and deal with.
A very good film. I highly recommend it.