The story of Linda Lovelace, who is used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband, before taking control of her life.PT1M57S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2t6k1 620 349 September 5, 2013
As everyone knows, pornography is a huge business on the internet. Even though nobody knows even roughly how many billions of dollars it is worth, it is pervasive enough to convince us that there are legions of porn addicts confined to basements around the world and a new generation with a hopelessly skewed idea of what sex is like. None of this seems half so world-changing, however, as the '70s phenomenon of Deep Throat.
Deep Throat was a pornographic film about fellatio that was also a proper feature, with characters and jokes, aimed at downtown movie theatre audiences. It was, naturally enough, the sensation of 1972. Fresh-faced Linda Lovelace (nee Boreman), the girl next door whose throat apparently opened like an anaconda's when presented with a penis, became the poster child for the sexual revolution and a household name. Nine years later, however, Linda recanted. She was pushed into porn, she said, by her husband, the manipulative, violent and needy Chuck Traynor. She was now a feminist and anti-porn campaigner.
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have made documentaries together for 25 years, mostly on gay themes; Lovelace is only their second feature since Howl, a fascinating dramatic interpretation of poet Allen Ginsberg's battle with American censorship laws.
Amanda Seyfried stars as Deep Throat porn star Linda Lovelace in the film Lovelace.
What interested them in Lovelace's story, Friedman says, was the fact that she embodied "a moment in history that really shaped our notion of sexuality and gender moving from the repressive '50s to the liberated '60s to feminism in the '70s".
Both are still amazed by how many people told them they had seen Deep Throat as a date movie. "In some ways," Friedman says, "it really opened up a discussion about sex, particularly oral sex that brought it into the conversation in a way it wasn't before."
As documentarists, they were intrigued by Lovelace's unreliability as a witness. "The fact that she told very different narratives of the same story: we find that fascinating from a storytelling perspective," Epstein says.
Their film, constructed to set those contradictions jangling, stars the perennially sweet Amanda Seyfried, best known for films such as Mamma Mia! and Dear John. Talking to her, it is clear she has more edge than that image suggests. After she made Chloe with Atom Egoyan, she says with annoyance, "It was all about 'oh, she shows her boobs!' That's Amanda, she shows her boobs! It's so dumb." And more than 40 years after Deep Throat, she points out, any famous woman who falls off her pedestal is made to suffer. "Certain people are never forgiven for certain things. I'm not saying everything should be condoned, but I also think you can't judge other people when you don't know their stories. Point the f---ing mirror at yourself."
The directors went on set at an "adult entertainment" production house to get some sense of the atmosphere, even though they say modern corporate porn has little in common with the rough-and-ready hucksterism of the '70s.
"From what we witnessed, women feel much more empowered in the porn industry, thankfully," says Friedman, "so they have more control of their own fate than Linda did or felt she did." Seyfried didn't meet any porn stars. "I think it takes a certain amount of balls though," she says. "It's one thing to be naked and it's another thing to be fornicating in front of people and it must be liberating in some way. I mean, I'm certainly intrigued by it."
It doesn't look liberating in Lovelace. Peter Sarsgaard, who gives a chilling and persuasive performance as the repellent Chuck, procrastinated for months before agreeing to play a part he says made him look bad. Seyfried says she didn't see Deep Throat until half-way through the shoot and found it hard to watch after having read Ordeal, Lovelace's account of what was happening behind the scenes.
Friedman and Epstein, however, also see the hippy who went into pornography "somewhat innocently and naively and with a purity of spirit", even if she was being exploited. "I think she is a classic American everyperson," Epstein says. "Gloria Steinem said to us, when we interviewed her as part of research, that any one of us could have been Linda. I think that is what we wanted to get across; her humanity, with all the flaws and contradictions we all have."
Lovelace is now showing in cinemas.