Larry Flynt is the hedonistically obnoxious, but indomitable, publisher of Hustler magazine. The film recounts his struggle to make an honest living publishing his porn magazine and how it changes into a battle to protect the freedom of speech for all people. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Anyone familiar with Milos Forman's work will know how much he likes to discuss and examine controversial real-life characters and make them the focal point of his films. Amadeus for one was a powerful expose of the legendary composer; Forman was able to extraordinarily add so much spice to the script that the end result was a harrowing documentation that genuinely moved us. We didn't need to know anything about the composer or even like his work or personality; Forman craves on these sorts of challenges. He likes to make films about characters that the audience may not identify with because it heightens the overall achivement if the film is a hit. With Larry Flynt he's done it again.
Flynt is the story of Porn magazine chairman larry Flynt who amidst an era of overwhelming decadance launched Hustler magazine, a porn magazine that broke all taboos and crossed all boundaries. The magazine was a huge hit that transformed Flynt into a powerful figure in the American Community. Needless to say though, Flynt (superbly played by Harrelson) faces insurmountable odds from everyone to keep the business running. Politicians, reverends, mass public opposition et.al.. Flynt is accompanied along the way by his junkie wife (played with real panache by Courtney Love) and a reluctant lawyer (dependable performance from Edward Norton Jr.). At the midway point of the film Flynt is shot and paralyzed and consequently the fight to stay on top is made even more challenging.
This story is intriguing because is dares to break universal taboo's. It shows Flynt disassociating himself from the norms and traditions of society and really willing to take genuine risks that could blow up in his face. Before Hustler was formed, Playboy was the porno pioneer. Playboy was subtle in it's nudity, preferring to call itself a REAL magazine rather than something trashy. We notice that Playboy was afraid to overstep the barrier. Playboy was a magazine that was restricted in it's disclosure of barenaked ladies because of the shape of society at the time and the values the society had come to embrace. To call yourself a porno magazine was unthinkable with unthinkable consequences! Hustler dared to step over those lines and bear all the consequences. Flynt was not necessarily a likeable man but he cannot not be admired. He was a risk taker, an enterpeneur, a man with a vision, and a man who believed that oe should act on one's desires and ambitions.
The mass hysteria the swamps the society as a consequence mainfests how powerful yet dangerous a little "acting on ambition" can bring. Flynt's idea is impossible to resist; the public cannot stay away from the controversial impact of the magazine. As the fan base grows, so does Flynt's empire, and so do the forces determined to suppress him. Flynt's meteoric rise is unprecedented, and made all the more shocking by the fact that the evnets are real. His opposition ranges from hypocritical politicians to dubious religious figures, all of whom are hell-bent on the abolition of Flynt and his tremendous reach.
The film earns huge plaudits on the entertainment level. This is undisputed!! The acting demonstartes tremendous range from all involved and Flynt is an offensive yet endearing, and very funny figure. We grow to really love and root for him as the film develops. The points that necessitate discussion however are the legal and moral issues that are debated by Flynt, his lawyer, and the opposition. The freedom of press, of speech, and the freedom to exercise your FREEDOM are all fiercely debated. Flynt vehemently defends his position because he feels that the world is afraid to agree with him, that the world is afraid to speak out. The world is polluted by hypocrits; he's the only pure seed. This presents tremendous irony because Flynt is a low-class pervert up against scholars, and politicians, and bureaucrats, and yet he's claiming that he's the real deal and they are all phonies. He has a point; what's the point in looking presentable and being well-educated if you are banal, hollow, and insipid and cannot open your mind to new ideas?? The film asks that question; we see how closed off the men in power are to Flynt's ideas and we grow to hate them. Then we are torn because we are reluctant to accept the values of a porn fiend. The fact that we cannot resist Flynt's pulling power is the sign of the film's success. We start off opposing Flynt, unable to identify. Then we try and take a neutral stand as we discover the ugliness of Flynt's opponents. Finally, after Flynt is paralyzed and yet continues to defend his honour, we can no longer resist the seduction.
The film has Flynt giving amazing speeches about why he is doing justice to himself and the people. He's giving them what they want,they are taking it,and yet they are determined to censor him. He debates this point to manifest the outstanding hypocrisy that lies at the heart of society. Flynt is such an important character because he speaks for all of us. On countless occasions, we all seek to expose the two-faced ugliness of those around us. We just can't because not enough people are listening. Flynt however gets eveyone's attention and defends his honour, preserves his integrity, and succeeds in winning over the justice system. The final speech given by Issacman, his lawyer is very insightful and very powerful for it argues this very point: 'We don't need to like what Larry Flynt does, but we should like and appreciate the fact that we have the right to make that decision on our own, and that's what makes our society great. We have the right to accept or reject the offer on hand. We may well reject it but we and we alone need to have the choice made available to us. If that right is taken away, then we wither away as a people and our individuality is nullified' The speech is amazing because it demonstrates how the right to accept a porn fiend and his work preserves the democracy of the Western World. Truly Shocking but brilliant!!!
I haven't discussed the other characters all that much and I'm not going to except say this: All the characters are multi-dimensional because what we see on the outside is never what we get on the inside. Flynt for all his crude, perverted behaviour is an admirable, likeable, highly identifiable personality. His wife, for all her vulgarity and drug addiction is an endearing, loyal,intelligent personality. Issacman, the lawyer, for all his traditional, stiff boring work ethic, is an idealistic, shrewd, and deeply committed man....The list goes on and on
I loved this movie because our hero is not perfect; he's anything but!!! Movies that depict the hero as a flawed individual stand a better chance of being embraced by critics and audiences alike. Flynt thrives on this! And exposing hypocrits for their true selves is every cynics (and I happen to be a huge one) dream. Flynt's journey is whopping emotional tour de force!!!! You don't have to like Larry Flynt as a film, but I love the fact that I had the right to make up my own mind!! Society, you ignore that at your peril!!!
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