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Critic’s Pick: ‘Lovelace’

The Reel Breakdown

Critic’s Pick: ‘Lovelace’

Lovelace

Must-See Movies Beyond the Blockbusters

Call it "A Star is Porn!" Amanda Seyfried ("Les Miserables") stars as the 70's adult film performer who made her name in "Deep Throat," widely credited as the first (and possibly the last) blue movie to cross over into the mainstream (meaning Johnny Carson cracked jokes about it). Also headlining the cast, Peter Sarsgaard straps Linda down appearing as her Svengali, Chuck Traynor.

It's not quite Judy Garland and James Mason, or Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, or even Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, but it's a period hustle with a great soundtrack. And the formula – the talented but modest girl meets a man who makes it happen for her, and then must climb over his broken body to independence – rarely gets old.

Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman corralled a stellar cast that piles on great performances, from Seyfried's freckle-faced femme fatale with the hot body and the doe eyes to Sarsgaard's menacing lady-killer with the 70's perm. We see the couple's heat – and their hate. Sizzle.

RELATED: Photos from Lovelace

Then there's Hank Azaria (in a frizzy toupee) and Bobby Cannavale as porn-makers – both spot on - along with Chris Noth as a mafia Mr. Big who invests in "Deep Throat." Throw in the almost unrecognizable Sharon Stone as Linda's fundamentalist mother, Adam Brody as the mustached porn star Harry Reems, and the ubiquitous James Franco as Hugh Hefner, and we have a party that rocks to seventies funk.

RELATED: Amanda Seyfried on Lovelace

Far rockier is the script, from Andy Bellin ("Trust"). It repeatedly loops back on itself in time and lacks a clear point of view, leaving things feeling a bit schizoid. Was Lovelace a suburban beauty who found liberation in sex and an open marriage – or was she an abused wife subjected to beatings and prostitution by her sleazy, pistol-waving, coke-hound husband? We're never quite sure where the film comes down on that question.

Like all those MTV “Behind the Music” specials, or typical showbiz biopics, the peppy rise from obscurity to fame is the most fun. The inevitable downward spiral plays as dirty melodrama. And the final chip of uplift that years later Lovelace found happiness in motherhood, housekeeping and a tell-all book is a bit hard to swallow. That said, it remains a fertile chapter in cinema history and pop culture – and it's undeniable that Lovelace got ripped off: "Deep Throat" grossed $600 million, and the star got a mere $1250 fee for her role.

Bottom Line: Linda Unlaces with an all-star cast