Released from strict religious parents (an unrecognisable Sharon Stone as Mum) by marriage to blustering pimp Chuck Traynor (a swaggering Peter Sarsgaard), naïve teenager Linda (Amanda Seyfried, artless and utterly charming) flowers sexually.
Traynor parlays her ‘speciality’ into Mafia-backed porn stardom: Linda’s role in carnal comedy Deep Throat (1972) turns her into a media sensation... then the movie pulls its big stunt – rewinding, Rashômon- style, to show us the private pain under the public story.
Choked, raped, and violently coerced by an increasingly jealous Traynor, it becomes clear that Linda isn’t a poster girl for sexual liberation. She’s a sex puppet, determined to quit an abusive marriage.
Sarsgaard gives a deftly multi-layered performance, showing the fear fuelling his rages, as the superb seyfried reveals raw emotions past roles never hinted at.
Despite some crafty cameos (Robert Patrick as Seyfried’s repressed father, Chris Noth as a steely movie mogul), none of the other performances register deeply.
And at a skinny 92 minutes, stray scenes suggest Epstein and Friedman axed a strand about Deep Throat’s cultural impact to concentrate on the central relationship.
Worryingly, for a movie obsessed with truth-telling, Lovelace also ignores the competing accounts of its heroine’s porno past, privileging only her own version.