Review: The Look of Love (18)

Steve Coogan as Paul RaymondSteve Coogan as Paul Raymond
Steve Coogan as Paul Raymond
Part biopic, part quasi mockumentary, Michael Winterbottom’s take on the drug-fuelled life and seedy times of self-made porn baron Paul Raymond represents a descent into a peculiar netherworld of off-kilter family life and full-on philandering.

Winterbottom casts his current man of the moment, Steve Coogan, as Raymond and it’s a fairly disastrous decision. Coogan is not an actor and his performances rarely rise above the single note. Instead the focus shifts to the women in his life – a triumvirate that includes abandoned wife Jean (Anna Friel), lover Fiona Richmond (Tamsin Egerton) and daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots). Raymond was a shameless self-promoter whose rise to fortune and notoriety was built on the clubs, theatres and magazines that peddled soft-porn and titillation to the masses in the ’60s and ’70s.

Winterbottom presents this milieu with lip-smacking relish. The Look of Love is all about fast cars and quite a few bad Seventies haircuts and beards. But more than that it’s about Raymond’s utter lack of empathy with those closest to him. Coogan struggles to convince as the man for whom family was an encumberance. One key scene involving his daughter sees the millionaire musing on his daughter’s struggles with life. She had everything, he says: money, cars, a nice home. How about a father who gave a damn?

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