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dir Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
scr Andy Bellin
prd Heidi Jo Markel, Laura Rister, Jason Weinberg, Jim Young
with Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Adam Brody, Chris Noth, Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale, Juno Temple, James Franco, Debi Mazar, Eric Roberts
release US Jan.13 sff, UK 23.Aug.13
13/US Millennium 1h32
the "happy" couple: Sarsgaard and Seyfried
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
BERLIN FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
This biopic of the most well-known pornstar in history is so strikingly well-made that it almost feels like it was shot in the 1970s. But then, that's what we expect from Oscar-winning documentarians Epstein and Friedman. It's also no surprise that the film feels clinical in its approach to a deeply emotional subject.
In 1970 Florida, 21-year-old Linda Boreman (Seyfried) is living with her harshly religious parents (Stone and Patrick) when she meets the free-wheeling Chuck (Sarsgaard) and moves in with him. Two years later she stars in Deep Throat, one of the most financially successful films of all time, bringing porn into the mainstream cinemas. But her jet-set lifestyle hides the dark fact that the violently abusive Chuck forced her to make the film then sold her body to anyone with money to spend. And it takes her years to break free.
Epstein and Friedman capture the period with a vivid but never forced attention to detail. Colours are grainy and dense, and scenes are accompanied by groovy songs. We vividly feel the oppressiveness of the male-dominated porn trade, as well as the giddy glamour of stardom. Then the film stops, rewinds and shows us the gruesome underside of the story. It's a bold gimmick that forces the perspective even as it undercuts the emotional momentum.
Oddly, the filmmakers skip over several major events in Boreman's life while recounting the story largely from her later autobiography Ordeal, including a telling scene that undercuts her earlier books. In other words, the film kind of brushes past the fact that Boreman continually contradicted her own account of her life, including the fact that Deep Throat wasn't her only porn movie.
Seyfried is well-cast as the enigmatic Linda, a harshly exploited woman who was clearly more than she seemed to be. Sarsgaard is terrific as always, peeling back layers to make Chuck a complex, charismatic villain. Stone is unrecognisable and strikingly good, while Patrick steals the show in the film's most emotionally resonant moment. All of the cameos add plenty of entertainment value along the way, sprinkling glitter over what is actually a seedy, tragic story. And while we get the point, we never quite feel the punch.
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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