The Look of Love
Out Now On-Demand
Lead us into temptation.
After 24 Hour Party People, Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story and The Trip, comedian Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom team up again with this biopic of the larger-than-life Paul Raymond - the British adult entertainment mogul dubbed the 'King of Soho', who in 1992 was named the richest man in Britain.
Starting his career as a mind-reader in the 1950s, it doesn't take long for Paul Raymond to incorporate nude women into his act - though under UK law of the time, they aren't allowed to actually move onstage. Going on to open England's first strip club, adult theatres and publish several magazines over the subsequent decades, Raymond amasses a sizeable fortune, but embracing the opportunities his chosen career affords him (sex, drugs, more sex) costs him his marriage to Jean (Anna Friel). Undeterred, Raymond continues to build an adult entertainment empire, transforming Soho and falling for a vicar's daughter (Tamsin Egerton). But as he attains top spot on the UK's rich list and prepares to hand over his business affairs to daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots), events take a tragic turn.
Biography, Comedy, Drama, True Story & Biography
Rating: R16 Sexualised Nudity, drug use & sex scenes
For all his many talents, there are two reasons Steve Coogan will never be considered a great dramatic actor. 1) he's much too funny. And 2) he sounds exactly like Alan Partridge.
All the same, Paul Raymond, Soho porn baron from the 1950s until his death in 2008, is the actor's meatiest role since Michael Winterbottom's 24-Hour Party People. An adorer/user of women, including wife Jean (Anna Friel) and mistress/protege Fiona (Tamsin Eggerton), Raymond morphs from end-of-the-pier hypnotist to a sort of British Hugh Hefner by giving people what they want - female nudity, and lots of it.
Whether doing goofy Sean Connery impressions or gorging himself on sex and drugs, Raymond is an unrepentant, if awkward, ladies' man, and Coogan plays him to foot-in-mouth perfection. The result, for the first hour at least, is an absolute riot, with Winterbottom pepping up the Carry On-style sauce with cameos from great British comedians (Stephen Fry, The Inbetweeners' Simon Bird), naughty-but-nice montages and expertly faked vintage footage.
But there's a gap in Raymond's psychological make-up that Winterbottom never quite solves. Like Partridge, he's a man who can't understand the world any other way, and when his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) starts to slide into drug addiction, he doesn't know how to react. Neither does the film.
Despite Poots' best efforts, Debbie's downfall isn't tragic but tiresome. It doesn't ruin the party the way it ruined Raymond, but it means Coogan will have to wait just a little longer for big-screen greatness. Luckily his next project, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, should do the trick.
Little White Lies (UK)
Time Out London
Total Film (UK)