Amanda Seyfried as Linda Lovelace? A 21st century sweetheart equivalent to Doris Day playing a notorious porn star? Questions have to be answered. Will there be nudity? Will there be graphic sex? Will it be titillating? Will it be sexy? Will it be as disastrous to her career as Meg Ryan’s descent into softcore porn was to hers?
So I saw it and the answers are yes, no, no, somewhat, and no.
Most people my age saw Deep Throat (1972), as did I. I walked out two thirds of the way through because it was so boring. It was, basically, 61 minutes of graphic oral sex, and a little bit of watching that goes a long way. Even so, estimates that it grossed over $600 million seem ludicrous. It made a lot of money but I’m dubious it made that much.
This is really two films in one. The first half shows what everybody thought happened, and the second half shows what Lovelace alleged really happened, a tale that apparently was confirmed by a lie detector test that her publisher forced her to take.
This is a fascinating film that opens the blinds on how the porn film industry broke into the mainstream. It features an outstanding cast, giving top-flight performances, including Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Chris Noth, Hank Azaria, Chloë Sevigny (who is notorious herself for having been filmed giving graphic oral sex in 2004’s The Brown Bunny), and James Franco, among others. I often recall Sarsgaard’s award-quality performance in Shattered Glass (2003), and he equals that here.
Even though Sarsgaard gives a terrific performance as Lovelace’s husband, Chuck, who actually pimps her out, Seyfried carries the film. She gives a moving, emotional performance as an abused woman, a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination. Even though she does appear topless, contrary to Susan Sarandon’s dictum her breasts do not upstage her (that’s not to be interpreted as a criticism of her physical endowments, rather a comment on just how exceptional her performance is).
Sharon Stone is almost unrecognizable in giving a surprisingly effective performance as Lovelace’s overly strict mother. There is one heart-tugging scene between the two of them that is a classic of fine acting.
This is not an easy movie to watch because of the ordeal that she goes through. She lived a tough life.
Linda gave several versions of her life. This is the one she stuck with at the end.
This is yet another apocalyptic view of the future, this time mid-22nd century, 2154 to be exact. As with the others of its ilk, it pictures the future bleakly. Earth is overpopulated, controlled by computers and robots, a dusty, dirty place teeming with people.
Circling the Earth above is a space station called Elysium where privileged people live in luxury and palatial homes, all of which are waterside. Matt Damon, unfortunately, lives on earth. Lucky for her, Jodie Foster lives on Elysium and runs “homeland security” … ruthlessly. Matt is a worker, lucky enough to have a job. Unfortunately, he suffers a disaster that gives him a terminal condition. While Jodie is the head of homeland security, she is not without her problems, too, an administration she doesn’t like and the feeling is mutual.
The basis of the story is that Matt has to get to Elysium to cure himself, and the daughter of his love interest, Alice Braga in a fine performance, who has leukemia. This is not an easy task, and that’s what the movie is about.
Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, who was also responsible for District 9 a few years ago, he keeps the action moving. This is a fast-paced, violent film with quite a few F-bombs. Unfortunately, it’s marred by a Terrence Malick-like, pace-killing scene near the end in which Damon reflects on his life. Like Malick’s scene in The Thin Red Line (1998) in which he had World War II stop in mid-battle while one of his main characters slowly dies on the battlefield, it is so slow and boring it totally destroys the fine pace that the film has maintained throughout.
In addition to the terrific pace, the music by Ryan Amon is especially effective, and Sharlto Copley gives a terrific performance as a real bad guy.
As action films go, this is okay. I just wish that we’d get a sabbatical from these huge, expensive action films that are comprised 50% of special effects. But apparently that’s where the big studios think the money is. I wonder how All About Eve (1950) or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) or A Man For All Seasons (1966), movies that relied on character and talk and ideas and acting, would fare today, if they could get the OK from studio bosses to even go into production.