The People vs. Larry Flynt Review

by Mike Joyce (mikej AT a011 DOT aone DOT net DOT au)
March 4th, 1997

    A film review by Mike Joyce
    Copyright 1997 Mike Joyce

Larry Flynt is a self proclaimed smut pedlar and the owner/publisher of the multi-million dollar Hustler Publications company. The People vs. Larry Flynt is the story of Larry Flynt's fight for the freedom to circulate and sell his pornographic magazine, Hustler. Based on a true story, the film is almost a documentary in that it's a very vivid and detailed look at Larry Flynt's life.

Woody Harrelson gives an excellent performance. He conveys Flynt's peculiarities and his character with depth and focus. By the end of the film the audience actually finds themselves, somewhat grudgingly, liking Larry Flynt. This is some feat given Flynt's apparent lack of any morals or ethics and his extremely smutty and childish behaviour in court. However, Flynt has a number of things going for him, he's rich, he's funny, and most importantly, he says exactly what he means.

Larry Flynt's wife, Althea Leasure is played by Courtney Love. Larry meets Althea at one of his clubs, and they fall in love (a very sexual and open love). Both of them indulge in a world of too much sex, and eventually too much drugs. Flynt had been taking an excessive amount of pain killers after being paralysed from the waist down (which was especially upsetting for him) by an assassin. Althea had joined him in taking the drugs. Following an operation Flynt decides to stop taking drugs, Althea does not have any such plans, nor the determination to follow them. As the film progresses we see her become increasingly frail and sick. Courtney Love obviously has a great understanding for Althea's situation, as she is brilliant in portraying Althea in every respect. It's extremely sad to watch Althea literally wither away.

Edward Norton plays Flynt's lawyer, Alan Isaacman. Again, this is a solid performance. The audience finds it easy to sympathise with Isaacman who somehow puts up with Flynt's courtroom antics. Flynt is not only childish in the courtroom, but downright rude to the judges, and lands himself in a lot of trouble (and even in a mental institution) because of it. Isaacman is very easy to like, and great at proving (in quite clever ways) his points to the court.

Milos Forman has done a great job in directing The People vs. Larry Flynt. It is not really an exciting or thrilling film, but instead a highly interesting portrayal of a true story. Due to Larry's character it is also, at times, a very funny film. However, it is much more than that. It is about the fight for freedom of speech, anti-censorship, and the right to be able choose for oneself what to see and buy. An excellent look at Flynt, his life, and his story. Keep a look out for the real Larry Flynt who makes a cameo as Judge Morrissey.

4.5 out of 5

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