If you’re expecting a film about computers, you’re going to be very disappointed. This isn’t about Ada Lovelace, the pioneer behind the calculating machine, it’s about the other Lovelace. You know the one. Yep, her. The one who starred in Deep Throat, a film about a woman whose clitoris is located at the back of her throat.
Come to think of it, even if you are expecting Linda Lovelace, you’ll still be disappointed.
Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film is a lazy, clumsy biopic that veers skittishly from comedy to tragedy and doesn’t do either very well.
It shares a central failing with Steve Coogan’s recent film The Look of Love, in which he played porn baron Paul Raymond – both fail to juggle the nudge-nudge, wink-wink humour of the softcore pornography world with the darker elements at their heart (in this case abuse, in The Look of Love, addiction).
Amanda Seyfried puts in a performance you would probably buy if her lines weren’t so clunky. Alas her – and everyone else’s – character is painted only in black and white. Young Linda finds the idea of sunbathing topless disgusting and can’t countenance the thought of fellatio. Give her half an hour, though, and she’s busy showing the porn world what it’s been doing wrong all these years. Sharon Stone is the only person who comes out relatively unscathed, with a striking performance as Linda’s aged, bitter mother.
A series of bafflingly pointless cameos only serve as a distraction – Chloë Sevigny’s contribution, for example, lasts all of two seconds, and James Franco’s vaguely terrifying Hugh Hefner doesn’t hang around much longer.
Lovelace’s biggest crime, though, is that you never really feel anything. It is essentially a film about a vulnerable woman being cajoled into sex and, later, literally pimped out. Her husband is physically and sexually violent, and yet… Nothing. It has all the emotional engagement of a gardening documentary.
Lovelace was originally billed as the film that would convince us Lindsay Lohan is a serious actor. As someone who has been chewed up and spat out by the celebrity machine, she could have lent the proceedings an air of authenticity. Alas, her various legal commitments meant she had to pull out, and this production never recovered.
First Published in City A.M.