Wednesday, August 7, 2013

REEL DEAL: Movies that matter REVIEW: LOVELACE

LOVELACE  dirs. Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman.

The birth control pill freed women from the tyranny of their body and gave them choice over sexual pleasure. It also made for a world that fundamentally changed the mating game. The rules had been that good girls do not fellate or god forbid put out until they were married. This drove men crazy. The pill changed everything. Women were free to use their bodies for pleasure and men took full advantage of this new freedom, resulting in many cases where women had even less right to say no than they did under the old rules.  In the early ‘70s, despite women’s liberation,  a porn based aesthetical representation of women and their bodies emerged.

It is against this background that Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman tell the story of the first above ground porn star, Linda Lovelace and her worldwide fame as the woman who could. Epstein and Friedman's background as Academy Award wining documentary filmmakers and their learning adventure into narrative film making (HOWL, the story of Allan Ginsberg infamous censorship battle) mesh into a triumph of historical and critical pop culture storytelling ,

LOVELACE world premiered at the 2013 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL.

Threading through a seedy, steamy story of the dark side of the porn industry with an appropriate soundtrack that embraced porn and glamorizes the exploitation of women against the Nixon years of puritanical outrage and a sanctimonious push for censorship, LOVELACE dramatically exposes the modification of moral values and the implicit commmodification of sexual freedom for profit.

Linda Lovelace is a would-be actress who falls in love with the wrong kind of men and will do anything to please them. For $200 to pay the rent, she stars in a porn movie for a mafia-related porn director and graphically performs oral sex that will forever change what men will expect from women regardless of what a woman wants or needs.

Against a cheesy Technicolor landscape of Miami and San Fernando Valley’s tacky glamour and an appropriately almost but not too overheated script by Andy Bellin, we meet a cast up to the demands of representing a world not as glamorous as the people in it think. Amanda Seyfried is perfectly cast because of her voluptuous body and over ripe lips.

One performance steals the film and should win her an Academy Award nomination. Unrecognizable as Linda Lovelace’s ultra conservative Florida mother is Sharon Stone. 

Hers is the real indelible performance in the film. Both the art direction and costumes are point perfect.

LOVELACE is a timely meditation on sexual freedom and the commodification of the body.  Epstein and Friedman have their fingers on the pulse of America.

(version of this review appeared in Westview News August 1st 2013)

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