News Column

Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass., Tim Miller column

June 22, 2013

YellowBrix

June 22--The folks who run Provincetown International Film Festival have never shied away from provocative fare; in fact, they embrace it. So the announcement that a film about real-life porn star Linda Lovelace would be showcased as this year's opening-night film came as no surprise.

More surprising is that "Lovelace" isn't titillating, and it doesn't seem intended to be. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who took part in a Q-and-A with the audience after Wednesday night's screening, the film takes an unsettling look at the life and brief porn career of the woman who became famous as the star of the XXX-feature "Deep Throat."

Lovelace later wrote a book, "Ordeal," in which she detailed the abuse she suffered at the hands of husband Chuck Traynor, who lured her into porn and prostitution. She abandoned the life, and became an anti-porn activist.

The film covers all of this, providing an idea of how someone could drift into the porn lifestyle, detailing the kind of abuse she suffered, yet also offering hope. The Epstein-Friedman team -- which also made "Howl," with James Franco as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg -- have made a compelling drama, thanks largely to Amanda Seyfried, outstanding in the challenging title role, and Peter Sarsgaard, as the manipulative Traynor. An excellent start for the fest.

The festival will screen "Lovelace" again at 8 tonight at Town Hall.

Later Wednesday night I checked out "Passion," a thriller starring Rachel McAdams ("Midnight in Paris") and Noomi Rapace (the original "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"), and directed by Brian De Palma ("Dressed to Kill," "The Untouchables," "Scarface").

Typical of a De Palma film, "Passion" is overflowing with sex and violence, and blatantly shows a Hitchockian influence.

McAdams and Rapace play ad agency execs whose rivalry turns cutthroat -- despite their sexual attraction to each other. The film is convoluted, where you often don't know whether you're watching a dream or reality, which is fine, but here it seems more than a little forced. No one ever accused De Palma of being subtle. But that can be a good thing, too: You can't stop watching "Passion," wondering what bizarre thing will happen next.

The festival will screen "Passion" again at 10 tonight at the Art House, and -- speaking of surprises -- it's been announced that De Palma will be there. Should be a fascinating discussion.

TIM MILLER

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(c)2013 the Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, Mass.)

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