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After the untimely death of his daughter, Paul Raymond reflects on his life. Rising from a mind-reading act, Raymond grew to have a fabulously successful career as an erotica magnate that would make him the richest man in Britain. However, for all his material success, Paul's appetites mess up his personal life, such as alienating his wife with his philandering. Furthermore, even as he challenged his society's sexual mores, Paul's relationship with his daughter proves troublingly problematic as she came of age. While trying to be the best father he could, Paul gradually comes to realize that his proclivities have impoverished him in ways that mere money cannot address. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The film's working title, The King of Soho, had to be dropped after the threat of legal action by Paul Raymond's son, Howard, who was already developing a project of the same name about his father's life. See more »
Michael Winterbottom is reunited with Steve Coogan in this watchable tale of one time richest man in Britain, porn and property entrepreneur Paul Raymond. Winterbottom elects to tell the story through the eyes of Raymond as he watches a video tape of a documentary he made with his daughter.
Coogan puts in a well rounded performance playing Raymond (it would have been easy to make the character either too likable, too bolshy or too obnoxious, credit to Coogan for getting the balance just right) from his early days when he first opened a members only strip club in SoHo to his later years after the death of his daughter Debbie - Imogen Poots. Raymond dotes on her and its their relationship which is central to the storytelling. He is portrayed as more or less disowning his other children; an uncomfortable scene to view is the visit and dinner he shares with his son from an early relationship. Anna Friel is superb as his first wife and mother of their three children Jean, who tolerates Raymond's countless affairs/one night stands. He explains at one point that its only natural for him to be having sex with all the beautiful women who work for him, else what sort of a man would he be. To throw a spanner in the works along comes Amber -Tamsin Egerton with whom Raymond falls in love with and leaves Jean for after she auditions for him. We follow Raymond and Amber as their relationship develops, no need this time for illicit liaisons for Raymond as Amber is partial to a bit of three in a bed. At this time Raymond takes the advice of and employs Tony Power to launch the naughty magazine (and extremely lucrative) side of his business. Power a playboy type coke addict is played; in a great piece of casting by stand up comic and panel show regular Chris Addison. Look out for bit parts from other Brit comedy stars including David Williams as a vicar.
This is a well scripted, acted and directed film as you'd expect from Winterbottom, which left me wanting to know more about Raymond. It moves along at a good pace and manages to offer both light and shade within the plot, as well as evoking the various decades featured with fine detail. Well worth the entry fee and bus fare.
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