The spectacular film directed by Milos Forman on the life of the charismatic publisher Larry Flynt is fascinating and pure riveting drama. A ride of colour, revolution, freedom of speech and, of course, smut and pornography. The film charts the journey of Flynt played by the bizarre, wacky and out of the box actor Woody Harrelson. It is about the evolution of Hustler magazine and how one man pushed the obscenity envelope of the nation a bit too far. The highlight of the film is the love story of Flynt and his wife Althea played by Courtney Love who matches Woody Harrelson toe to toe with her energy and style.
The film has many twists and turns as we see Larry Flynt’s battle for the right of freedom of speech and that ignites the debates in America about the First Amendment. The latter half of the film focuses on the Hustler magazine chiefs legal battle with the reverend Jerry Falwell, the head of the Christian Angelic Movement. Flynt takes out a parody of a Campari advertisement ridiculing Falwell for having sex with his mother in an outhouse. The case goes right up to the United States Supreme Court. Suddenly, the entire mainstream media gets interested in the outcome of the case because if Hustler magazine lost, it would introduce more legislation suppressing the freedom of the press and the right to offend public figures. The victory cost Larry Flynt his legs as he gets shot outside the courthouse by a white supremacist serial killer. As if that was not enough, Larry and Althea retreat to their private mansion in a haze of drugs and painkillers. Larry Flynt, the most notorious pornographer in the US has been paralysed waist down. The porn king can’t fuck for life.
But for all his vulgarity and smut, you can’t but like Larry Flynt and feel for his cause. His flamboyance and some of his antics during the trial are hilarious and one can’t help but admire the man for his creativity, wit and satire. Flynt is portrayed as an enigma, a chameleon who changes his hide. At first, he says he has become a born-again Christian after having a profoundly touching spiritual experience. But later on in life, he refutes it as the work of messed up chemicals in his brain.
Flynt is suddenly now the champion of the free press as he wins in the supreme court. He is hailed as a hero though Flynt refutes that and says the real hero of the film is the United States Supreme Court which actually upheld the first amendment. He becomes a national figure and stands for the President of the United States. Currently still running the Hustler magazine, this self-confessed pervert and his over the top, passionate and colourful life is portrayed in all its hues by the director Milos Forman.
The movie is shrouded in controversy and attacked by feminist groups for promoting pornography and glorifying Flynt. The film has been also criticised by Christian religious groups. But as Flynt says, the entire fight is to stop people and government from legislating morality. The government and religious groups have had their grip on the common man’s pleasure centre and that’s not a good thing. It’s no one’s business what I do or read in my bedroom. All in all, it’s a peek into an extraordinary life of a politically incorrect man. I, for one, have my sympathies for Flynt and was dazzled by Woody’s acting especially the way he coped with the wheelchair and the muffled accent at the same time in the film. So go on to YouTube or download the film from the net. This is a must see film blessed with golden globe awards. No one can doubt this entertainment powerhouse of a film.