Imagine this: A society divided between haves and have-nots. The former lounge by aquamarine pools on verdant estates accessorized with shiny medical machines that cure anything and everything. The latter are jammed into roasting slums where health care barely exists.
The movie aims to fill a space left by the Occupy movement, but, like its underfunded freedom fighters, it relies on crude weapons. Audiences may feel more manipulated than incensed at the sight of a dark-eyed little girl with advanced leukemia whose survival depends on getting to one of those machines on that gated space station.
Matt Damon plays the reluctant revolutionary once told (by a nun, yet) that he was destined for something great. Jodie Foster, as Elysium’s icy defense secretary, has little to do except stalk around barking mean orders in a clipped British accent.
The picture is as arms-happy, chase-heavy and deafening as any of its summer-blockbuster ilk. To the film’s credit, the writer-director, Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”), keeps the action coherent and fills the plot with clever twists that make up for some of the insulting obviousness of the political allegory.
“Elysium,” from TriStar Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: *** (Seligman)
Who was Deep Throat?
The thoughtful, uneven “Lovelace” reveals porn’s first superstar as a battered, broken rebuke to the sex industry she epitomized.
A poignant Amanda Seyfried plays Linda Lovelace, nee Boreman, whose performance in 1972’s jokey triple-X film “Deep Throat” made her and the phrase cultural sensations.
A surefire laugh-getter for Johnny Carson, Lovelace captured the free-spirited, anything-goes ’70s.
“Lovelace” presents the porn star as less punchline than punching bag, victimized by her pimpish husband Chuck Trayner (Peter Sarsgaard).
Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (“Howl”) expose the ugly story behind the raunchy one.
Discovered at a roller rink by smooth-talking nudie-bar owner Chuck, Linda go-go dances her way out of the family home and into his seedy life.
The quick ride to porn celebrity plays out like a lark -- not glamorous, but as spirited as the lighter moments of “Boogie Nights.”
Midway through “Lovelace,” though, Epstein and Friedman essentially rewind the story, filling the gaps with the beatings, threats and a vicious gang rape that reveal Lovelace’s career as nothing more than sex slavery.
Written by Andy Bellin and based on Lovelace’s 1980 memoir “Ordeal,” “Lovelace” is heavy going, even as it builds to the star’s self-empowerment and activism. (She died in a car accident in 2002).
A final segment that recreates, through digital technology, her book-promoting appearance on “Donahue” isn’t nearly powerful enough to serve as much of a catharsis.
Seyfried, though, is faultless, and Stone, unrecognizable, is a small revelation as the heartless mother.
Adam Brody plays “Deep Throat” co-star Harry Reems as the hapless doofus he was, and Chris Noth, Bobby Cannavale and Hank Azaria as mob-connected porn kingpins seem right.
Sarsgaard, though, is the most memorable, his nastiness nearly as unnerving as Eric Roberts’s similar, indelible turn in the 1983 “Star 80.”
“Lovelace,” from Radius-TWC, is playing in select theaters and is available on demand at iTunes and other digital platforms. Rating: **1/2 (Evans)
To contact the writers on the story: Greg Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org and Craig Seligman at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.