In 1972 before the explosion of the adult film industry, before the VHS tape and before the internet was flooded with pornography, there was Deep Throat. It was the first scripted pornographic film - a theatrical feature that had a story, humour and most importantly for its unparalleled success, a young unknown actress by the name of Linda Lovelace. It became the most famous porn movie ever made.
Linda Lovelace, whose real name was Linda Boreman, is a 21 year old girl trying to escape the confines of her home life where her religious parents are strict and overbearing. She meets Chuck Traynor and just months later they are married. Once married Traynor introduces Linda to porn and before long he has secured her an audition for a film - which turns out to be Deep Throat. This is the story that the public knew and the girl they adored and lusted over in equal measure.
Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman handling the proceedings expertly and in the supporting roles that are a host of fantastic character actors including Juno Temple, Hank Azaria and Chris Noth, plus a brief cameo from James Franco as Hugh Hefner.
The film is cleverly spilt into approximately two equal parts of 40 minutes each. The first half depicts a young girl falling in love with and marrying a charming hustler who passionately loves her. After just 17 days in the adult film industry she has become the most famous adult film star in the world. Her life is changed, she is famous, ostensibly wealthy and happy.
The second half of the film however presents a different angle on events. Six years after becoming a star Linda would tell the world a completely different, more harrowing, story. It was a heartbreaking story of abuse and survival. The second half of the film tells this story. The true story. Traynor had been controlling the young woman’s life from the first time he met her. Forcing her to first perform sexual acts on him and then forcing her in pornography. Even more horrific Traynor had sickeningly forced Linda into prostitution where she was raped and sexually abused by multiple men at the same time. Linda had unsuccessfully on more than one occasion tried to escape Traynor and his abuse but even her own family had refused to take her back, possibly not understanding the severity of the matter or possibly simply turning a ‘blind eye’ to their daughter’s plight leaving her to deal with her own problems as they were too religious and/or too embarrassed by the direction their daughter’s life had taken.
Amanda Seyfried takes on the challenging role of Linda Lovelace, and whilst the sexual scenes are handled carefully, thankfully leaving most of the worst events to the viewer’s imagination, she still has to handle several emotionally difficult scenes. She is fearless in the role, from naive, young, beautiful girl to a survivor of abuse. Peter Sarsgaard is Chuck Traynor and is equally fearless in a different way, first portraying a charmer, then an aggressive, scary abuser.
The film perhaps doesn’t go into as much detail as it might. It feels a little lightweight considering the severity of the subject matter, but it is still a compelling, expertly directed and brilliantly acted film.