Linda Lovelace was the epitome of unbridled sexuality in the early 1970s, when her X-rated films such as Deep Throat took porn into the mainstream. Later, she recalled being abused and coerced into that life, and the glamor seemed to be tarnished by degradation.
This film, starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role, “changes as her view of her life changes,” says Jeffrey Friedman, who co-directed with Rob Epstein.
The pair have a fondness for figures who push back against the rigidness of society. Epstein made the Oscar-winning 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, and the pair were at Sundance three years ago with Howl, about the obscenity trial surrounding the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal poem.
Was Linda Lovelace — who later returned to her real name, Linda Boreman, when she became an anti-porn crusader — a willing participant or a victim? Was she sexy or tragic? “We tried to mirror her psychology at the different periods of her life,” Epstein said. “That gave us the opportunity to have a tone that really varies. There’s a lot of humor in the film, and it’s a somewhat harrowing drama — as is life. Not everything is all tragic or all rosy and peachy.”
James Franco co-stars as Hugh Hefner, Adam Brody plays porn actor Harry Reems, and Peter Sarsgaard plays the husband Lovelace says forced her into a life of porn. Some would argue the popularization of triple-X movies helped the culture get over repressive sexual attitudes, while others maintain it was only a destructive force.
“It’s about a really fascinating moment in our history where our sexuality as a culture really evolved, and in a way it was our adolescence and young adulthood, moving from the sexual revolution to feminism,” Friedman says.
The film will be R-rated, the directors said, which meant they had to figure out how to portray the sexuality within those restrictions. “We didn’t set out to make a porn film anyway. It’s the story of a time and a person,” Friedman says. “I think it’s sexy, but it’s tasteful.”
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