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Steve Coogan
Chris Addison
Tamsin Egerton
Anna Friel
Imogen Potts
James Lance.
Michael Winterbottom.
Matt Greenhalgh.
Running Time
101 minutes

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The Look Of Love
The Raymond review

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How Paul Raymond (Coogan) went from a travelling nude show (featuring a lion) to Britain’s richest man, baron of a huge pornography and Soho property empire, as told via his troubled relationships with the three women in his life: wife Jean (Friel), girlfriend Fiona Richmond (Egerton) and daughter Debbie (Poots).

The Look Of Love
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Contains strong sexualised nudity, sex and hard drug use,” advises the BBFC. Given that, plus its collaborating talents — character comedian Steve Coogan and seemingly fearless director Michael Winterbottom — one might expect The Look Of Love to earn “9 Songs meets 24 Hour Party People!” as its top-line fatuous poster quote. It may yet. (Especially if some wily marketer sneaks that very line out of context.) But despite the former being a Winterbottom foray into “strong sexualised nudity” (you saw it go in and everything), and the latter being another Winterbottom subcultural biopic starring Steve Coogan as a notorious self-publiciser and unconventional entrepreneur who exhibited an excess of ‘character’ (namely Factory Records founder Tony Wilson), The Look Of Love retains its own, distinct charm.

Paul Raymond was the founder of the Raymond Revuebar in Soho, a ‘members only’ club which put on live strip shows, often with a gauchely exotic twist (there was litigation over one act involving a snake). He later staged erotic shows and sex comedies at various West End theatres, and bought up and launched various top-shelf hand-shandy mags, including Men Only, Mayfair and Razzle. Despite, or because of, being (yes) a 24-hour party person, his personal life proved disastrous: a wrecked marriage, alienated sons (one of whom was illegitimate), and his beloved daughter Debbie — to whom he intended to bequeath his empire — dying of a heroin overdose in 1992. He ended his life as a recluse.

And it is there that Winterbottom, and writer Matt Greenhalgh (Control, Nowhere Boy), choose to begin, with a shrivelled, dejected Raymond, the showman turned no-show man, replaying better times on a retro-space-age VHS player. From there, it is a largely conventional biopic (no 24 Hour Party People-style fourth-wall breaking here), speeding us through key moments in Raymond’s career, from black-and-white to colour — a straightforward rise-and-fall. In this sense, it is quite unadventurous. While sex shows and explicit nudity were Raymond’s stock-in-trade, the film doesn’t set out to shock (although you might raise an eyebrow at the way he gives his daughter a line of coke during labour), instead revelling knowingly in the gaudy tastelessness of it all. There’s always been something incredibly unerotic about British erotica: goose pimples, bad wigs, feather boas… All Razzle, no dazzle.

For this reason, abetted by the casting of Coogan and the likes of Chris Addison (as Men Only’s predictably sleazebag editor), David Walliams and James Lance, the film skirts closest to comedy. But Coogan himself is admirably restrained. If his Raymond feels familiar, it is only because we’re so used to seeing him as a certain other naffly British, un-self-aware showman with bad hair. Coogan’s Raymond is surprisingly unaggressive, someone of strong convictions and supreme self-confidence but who avoids personal confrontation. More impressive, though, is the trio of supporting performances from the women in Raymond’s life: Anna Friel as the citric-sharp Jean, who puts up with too much for too long; Tamsin Egerton as leggily stunning and intelligent model-cum-columnist Fiona Richmond, who puts up with even more for not so long; and Imogen Poots, hiding in the shadow of her own fringe as Debbie, who, the film asserts, was spoiled by her father in the truest way possible — thus finding, amid all the daft interior design and humorous erotica, the story’s tragic heart.

A solid, straightforward biopic about a fascinating individual and his destructive relationships, with strong performances and a healthy sense of naffness.

Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Average user rating for The Look Of Love
Empire Star Rating

RE: Me and a few dirty macs

Steve Coogan stars as Paul Raymond, who in the 1970's and early 80's built up a porn industry, sorry, adult entertainment empire, that saw he become the richest man in Britain. Coogan is inspired casting as Raymond, part Alan Partridge ("I'm friends with all The Beatles...except Yoko Ono!") whilst looking like his comic creation from the 90's Tony Ferrino. He is ably backed by a fine British cast, Anna Friel as his long suffering Wife Jean, Chris Addison as his business associate To... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by George Vader at 09:13, 04 September 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Me and a few dirty macs

After Winterbottom and Coogan gave the Factory Records story a funny and interesting spin i had high hopes for this . Well i was let down . Coogan is good but the film feels rushed and im sure Raymonds story had more life and colour instead pack the film with comiedians a little drugs a little sex and come up with a film which is despite some nice turns a bit empty and fatally a little boring . Would have been better as a documentary. 5/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by filmburner30 at 16:56, 02 September 2013 | Report This Post

Me and a few dirty macs

Cinema seemed kind of empty, I guess chics didn't view this as a date movie to drag their guys to. Looks like I'm gonna be the only one reviewing it here. The two actresses, Anna Friel and whats-her-face show t&a for the millionth time in their careers, and the guy with the beard was funny being a coke-head. That's pretty much it, but not bad for shallow entertainment. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Normal Control at 00:42, 08 May 2013 | Report This Post

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