Lovelace is a biopic about escape from a life of subjugation in a claustrophobic, controlling and violent marriage, a marriage in which Linda Boreman, later Linda Traynor and finally Marchiano but far better known as Linda Lovelace, was forced to work in the sex industry. It is based on her book, Ordeal – ironically one of four biographical works, though the others were largely fictional.
As “Lovelace” (a “fictional character” as she describes her alter ego), played sympathetically here by Anna Seyfried, says in a TV interview recreated at the end of this movie, she spent a total of 17 days in the porn industry, and those 17 days defined her life and led to her being more famous than she could ever have dreamed possible. She unwittingly innovated the career path for crossover porn stars, those who could gain respectability in spite of the material in which she was portrayed.
It’s fair to say that at first the naive and innocent Linda is entranced by the attention and pampering, the bright lights and applause, meeting Sammy Davis Jr, the glitz and glamour – but learns very quickly that it is but skin deep, masking the vicious exploitation of women.
However, the real villain here is Chuck Traynor, the man who forced his wife into a life as a sex slave and effectively a prostitute. Linda never saw any money, not that it was anything other than a minute fraction of what Deep Throat grossed, but that was the least of her problems. Her husband was jealous of her fame, perhaps the source of his increasing abuse and violence towards her and her eventual liberation from all that he forced her to do.
At least in part, she blames her stern disciplinarian mother (Sharon Stone) whose view was that she should “obey” her husband and serve him – and turned away her own daughter back into the arms of the appalling Mr Traynor. It takes a great deal of courage for a woman to go against her family and walk out on even an abusive marriage, though here the predominant emotion causing her to depart is fear. The film’s producer and sponsor (Chris Noth) comes to her aid by beating up Traynor and warning him off.
This is essentially a fairly straight narrative that does not glory in either the razzle-dazzle, nor the victim status of its eponymous protagonist. While Seyfried’s breasts are shown, you could never describe it as a titillating movie any more than the unprepossessing expose it might also have turned out to be. If anything adds to her appeal it is her sweet and innocent face and freckles.
Actually, the sex industry comes out of this portrayal reasonably well, much as Boogie Nights portrays the industry with a certain degree of affection, for all its many faults. Hugh Hefner (James Franco) is played more as a superstar visionary who inspires the young and naive Linda than the porn entrepreneur he always has been in reality, but there is a supportive family atmosphere among the players. But while some might be there for choice and the income that career afforded them, it was not a place for a young girl with a decent upbringing who was not in a position to make choices for herself, particularly when the choice was made for her by a man she unwisely trusted.
As for Linda, she later found happiness as a wife, mother, and the spearhead of campaigns against porn and domestic violence, but sadly died at the age of 53 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident, and while her name will forever be associated with the character she created – though her book and campaigning is held as a triumph not just by feminists. Chuck went on to marry the next most famous pornstar and ironically died of a heart attack soon after Linda’s demise. Quoted from Wikipedia:
Lovelace’s sister, Barbara Boreman, later said in an interview in Inside Deep Throat that she was disappointed that Traynor died before she could kill him.