Dirs.:Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman
I never imagined that reviewing this film would be such a complicated matter.A biopic about Linda Lovelace whose extraordinary skills at fellatio in Deep Throat, a 1972 hardcore porn film that became a mainstream success, grossing $600 million and getting reviewed by The New York Times, raised expectations of mindless entertainment. Hell even the posters of the film call it “provocative” and ” sexy ” and present a Amanda Seyfried sporting bedroom eyes and a racy lacy red bra.
What we get instead is a portrait of a young woman brought up in a strict catholic household under domineering parents, who rebels against her small town America surroundings. She gets entangled with Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard) who is a petty criminal and runs a topless bar.Very soon Linda finds herself selling her body for money under the vice-like grip of Chuck who puts a gun on her head at the slightest sign of rebellion.The scenes of the shooting of Deep Throat provide a few light moments with Linda shown to be in a cooperative mood.Her fame makes Chuck both greedy and highly insecure.I walked into the movie without any knowledge of Lovelace’s life except for the revolution she started in Deep Throat, and so was mildly surprised by the ending.Lets just say she does not become a respectable item girl in Bollywood like Sunny Leone.
Since this is a biopic, pointing out a few facts that I learnt from Wikipedia would not be out of order.Facts like Lovelace being part of a bestiality (read: sex with a dog) film in her early days and the fact that Deep Throat was followed by a few more porn films, which goes against the ending suggested in the film.Lovelace became a very vocal anti pornography campaigner penning three books on the subject including an autobiography, Ordeal, where she stated that Deep Throat was a film where she was being raped on camera with a gun to her head.And yes she wrote two sleazy books glorifying porn in her earlier avatar.The film portrays her as a victim of abuse while strangely breaking character with a compliant Lovelace during filming oral sex with an actor formerly known as Dick Long.
I suspect, actually I am quite sure, that the film has suffered due to it skinny 90 minute runtime and that the producers have taken a deliberate decision to market the film on its sexuality plank, dangling the bait of a nude and virginal Amanda Seyfried.All this should make the film a royal mess but the film is strangely disturbing and thought provoking. Are we not constantly surrounded by images of women as sex objects even if porn in not part of the exposure? What is the story behind those images? Amanda Seyfried was embarrassed watching the film with her parents but in other societies even wearing a skirt is reason for honour killing and suicide.It will be fascinating to know the back story of this film and see a directors cut, if it ever comes out.
There have been articles in the media about how porn is changing the perception and practice of sex among teenagers.It has an equally devastating effect on older people.While what James Bond does on screen is fantasy what porn depicts is cruel reality .The explosion of digital devices all around us which are capable of summoning graphic sexual and often abusive images, has changed us far more profoundly than we care to understand.Our lawmakers are caught entertaining themselves in parliament with porn and the men who committed the brutal gang rape in Delhi had watched porn that night.All this is very disturbing and this film should add to the dialogue in society about porn.
The issues at stake are much more complex than this film has the courage or inclination to debate.I am glad I watched this film and read a bit about the real life of Linda Lovelace.She may have been a misguided woman chasing fame and publicity at any cost in both her pro and anti porn phase but we should be wiser 50 years later rather than just looking away.”Who is Deep Throat?” was a question asked during Watergate Scandal in 1974 and a testament to how entrenched the film had become in the American psyche, that a secret informant should be called Deep Throat.That question remains without a credible answer. But who was the real Linda Lovelace? We still have to wait for the answer, if we care for it, that is.