“If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, then it’ll protect all of you . . . ’cause I’m the worst”, declares Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in the midst of one of his many court cases.
America’s most notorious and successful pornographer is played with red-blooded bawdiness by Woody Harrelson in this airbrushed version of the multimillionaire’s life.
A long way from Amadeus (1984), director Milos Forman would have you believe that obscenity is therapy as he charts Larry Flynt’s rise from the Kentucky backwoods to run a series of strip clubs and publish explicit nude magazines such as Hustler.
It was the latter that really brought Flynt to the attention of America’s religious right and led to the lawsuits that saw him defending freedom of speech for all people. Despite the idealising of this pornographer supreme, Forman has made a film entertaining enough to gain him and Harrelson Oscar nominations.
However, the real tour-de-force performance comes from Courtney Love as Flynt’s stripper wife, Althea Leasure.
Ruth Carter Stapleton