Larry Flynt: Life and Miracles of the King of Porn in an Irresistible Biopic

There are characters who have become legends for the most disparate reasons and Larry Flynt certainly deserves a place of honor among them. Disappeared on February 10 at the age of 78 in Los Angeles, due to a cardiac arrest, Flynt has perhaps forever changed the history, judicial but not limited to, of the United States and in a completely unexpected way.
Controversial figure, the porn producer has been a constant antisystem mine, capable of demolishing American respectability in its roots, of exposing the flaws of thatamerican dream so much celebrated and to wage unprecedented legal battles over the first amendment of the Constitution.
A life of joys and sorrows, an example in the flesh of the most bizarre tragicomedy, which from the sensational success as editor of Hustler, sexy magazine second only to Playboy as happened overseas, he then frequented the courtrooms for large periods of his life, also remaining paralyzed following an attack by a white supremacist in the late 1970s.
That is why with his death not only a strong and sanguine personality is gone, but also a symbol of insane and incurable tenacity that bordered on madness and a clear mind even in apparently the most senseless choices.
To remember it we decided to rediscover the remarkable biopic about him made in 1996 by Milos Forman, in which to put on the uncomfortable clothes an extraordinary Woody Harrelson.

The courage to dare

After a short prologue set in 1952, which shows us Larry and his younger brother Jimmy as children and intent on selling alcohol in their native Kentucky countryside, the story moves forward twenty years with the two characters already adults.
Owners of a strip club, the Flynts struggle to make ends meet due to a small clientele and the numerous strippers who perform in the club to pay. Larry starts the relationship with one of them, the uninhibited Althea Leasure, who will later become his wife, and decides to create a magazine with black and white photographs along the lines of the much more famous Playboy.
The release of the first issue attracts the arrows of feminists and Catholic movements, but soon success arrives and the copies sold increase visibly day by day. Along with fame, however, also come the problems, with Larry being sued in court by anti-pornography activists, who regard his newspaper as an insult to public morality.

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Court that will become a sort of "second home" for the protagonist, determined to respond blow for blow despite the numerous sentences and short periods spent in prison. Now a billionaire and with an empire, editorial and television, to manage, Larry falls victim to the madness of a serial killer, who tries to eliminate him along with his lawyer. Seriously injured and paraplegic he takes refuge in the world of drugs but his crusade for freedom of expression it is far from over.

Beyond all limits

Still very active in recent years, so much so that in 2017 he bought a page of Washington Post to offer a $ 10 million reward to anyone who provided useful information for the impeachment of his eternal enemy Donald Trump, Larry Flynt was a unique individual in the controversial history of the United States, ideal subject for a cinematographic work.
That staged by Forman is an exhilarating and unleashed fair of excesses that fully follows the tantrums and genius strokes of the real counterpart, who also appears in a brief cameo in the role of bigoted judge Morrissey, this deliberately sarcastic choice.
As the film shows us, Flynt's purpose is precisely to defeat such bigotry prevailing and a battle born initially to protect their interests progressively evolves into a struggle against the system, a campaign for freedom of expression which is cloaked in ever greater nuances until the climax phase, that is the "final round" at the Supreme Court which had a completely unexpected outcome and prominence even beyond national borders.
The clash between these two worlds is inevitably "biased" within the film, but that doesn't detract from either script always calculated and precise, capable of dosing excesses with a pleasant taste for kitsch and irony.
The numerous procedural sequences in fact offer a string of jokes at the gun and in the second half, after Flynt is now physically and mentally tried by the accident and the consequent addiction to drugs, the surreal becomes real in probably the most hilarious processes ever seen on the big screen, even more incredible if you think inspired by the actual circumstances.

The director of Czechoslovakian origins reuses the formula at the basis of another of his masterpieces, namely thatAmadeus (1984) who offered us a new and colorful version of the famous composer, and manages to expose and unhinge the more complex sides of the protagonist.
Larry Flynt - Beyond the scandal is a biography with a particular and bizarre cut, which avoids any kind of didacticism maintaining a constant and very high pace for all its two hours of viewing.

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We laugh, we smile but we reflect at the same time, in a tour de force incessant that after the preparatory phases, aimed at introducing the first steps and that tormented rise to power, does not leave a moment of respite, always moving on that thin border that separates the sacred and the profane, here antithetical but complementary mirrors of the underlying themes and paradoxes that characterize the so-called land of the free.
With a protagonist who catalyzes Christological venerations on himself, he is convinced that he has been chosen by God for his mission only to then deny himself again, the narrative moves on territories similar to the grotesque which however are the bearers of different interpretations and allow for a complete and reasoned analysis on the issues dealt with which, in the end, are the actual beating heart of the whole.

A battle to be won

The mockery of religion and the hypocrisy it often entails in its most exposed and avid supporters is worthily represented in the gala sequence, where lawyer Charles Keating, typical example of American Puritanism, distributes copies of Hustler between the tables and most of the guests devour the pages of the newspaper with their eyes, eventually criticizing them harshly in front of the others.
The general atmosphere remains on tones of a bitter farce, the ideal vehicle to leave the field open to the histrionic and sometimes irrepressible performances of the cast. With a young Edward Norton - just launched from the contemporary debut exploit in Schegge di fear (1996) - in the role of lawyer e Courtney Love in a role that "fits her perfectly" as the fourth wife of Flynt, he undoubtedly dominates the scene, an extraordinary Woody Harrelson.
In his skilful transformation, set on macchiettistic tones but constantly pervaded by a deep pain and an unshakable determination, the actor gives us a memorable interpretation, without which probably the film would not have had the same impact, such as to make him win a well deserved Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

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