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8/10
A Look of the Sixties
jonrosling13 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Paul Raymond, the Grand Master of 70s pornography and the self proclaimed King of Soho, is the central character in this biopic by Michael Winterbottom, based on Paul Willets book, Men Only - and yet Winterbottom's film is as much about the people around Paul Raymond as it is about the man himself.

The film begins with Paul Raymond - played here by a superb Steve Coogan - mourning the evident loss of his daughter Debbie, reflecting on his life and relationship with her via an old video recording. Hounded by the media outside his Mayfair penthouse he is a shadow of what he once was, grey, tired, backlit. The film then flashes back to the humble almost-beginnings of Paul Raymond, telling in turn each significant phase of his life and success - from the era of the Raymond Revue Bar and the notorious (but unsurprisingly successful) Pyjama Nights theatre show right through to his later success with the Men Only magazine.

Winterbottom and his production designers capture beautifully the design aesthetic of the era - the penthouse flat, which Raymond brags was designed for him by Ringo Starr, is particularly noteworthy - and together with the excellently chosen soundtrack and crisp cinematography capture a real sense of the colour and hedonism at the heart of this man's life in the 1960s, 1970s and beyond. In fact the style, design and structure of the film reminded me very much of both Boogie Nights and Goodfellas.

Coogan is on top form, and while some people many see his performance at Paul Raymond as just a pastiche of Alan Partridge, I for one don't. For in the same way that the well known and well loved radio journalist from Norwich is something of an alter ego for Coogan, the idea of Paul Raymond himself is just an act, a face that the man wears for the public (and often for his private life). From the outset when we discover that his real name is Geoffrey Quinn we see a man who is forever hiding behind something, keen to portray himself as something very different to his real existence. His ignorance of both his legitimate and illegitimate sons; his outwardly normal and happy relationships with women(which both eventually break down); his twisting of words and meaning to justify his business - here is a man who spends his life stripping away the veneer of respectability in public life with exhibitions of voyeurism and pornography and yet one who keeps his own very private and personal existence hidden from view, the only seemingly genuine emotion and touching moment when he watches old video footage of his daughter. Despite the hordes of women, despite the money, despite the power Paul Raymond never seems genuinely happy. Everything is a mask for a hollowness that is only filled ultimately by the presence of his daughter.

Imogen Poots pushes to the fore as Raymond's wayward daughter Debbie. The film is as much about the destructive life she leads than that of her father - in fact you could see her downfall as paying the price for his father's sins. Encouraged into areas where she had no talent (Imogen Poots off-key singing was at the same time humorous and tragic) and tempted by the drugs and easy-to-sleazy lifestyle around her father it is inevitable that it would be she who's fragility and delicacy is torn apart. The only character for whom Paul Raymond feels any lasting emotion is the one character he drives to the edge of destruction, ultimately watching as she crashes and burns over the edge.

The actress plays the part masterfully and I choose the words "fragility" and "delicacy" quite deliberately - she manages to never loose that school girl naivety and innocence, even when playing Debbie at a much older age. It's quite an affecting turn from Imogen Poots, who's talent and beauty will surely mark her out as a very big star in the future.

Other cast members are also effective - Chris Addison as the somewhat slimy Tony Power; Anna Friel as Raymond's first wife Jean; Tamsin Egerton as the club dancer with whom he runs off. There are also a series of cameo performances from familiar faces that give this film a genuinely British feel, of the like normally associated with older, classic British movies. Perhaps it's the accompanying soundtrack and design styles in play but this feels like The Italian Job, or Alfie; or Blow-Up. Simon Dee wouldn't look out of place driving off in his sports car with a blonde in the passenger seat (in fact there is something of a homage to the credits of his 1960s TV show Dee Time in the film).

I was fortunate enough to see this at an advance screening of the film at the Bradford International Film Festival, where the screenwriter Matthew Greenhalgh fielded questions from the audience. Challenged about the sexual politics of both the film and pornography in general Greenhalgh seemed somewhat overwhelmed.

But this isn't a film about feminism, or the rights and wrongs of pornography and its politics. The film-makers are showing us a classical tale of rise and fall, and of how even someone who essentially uses people for the pleasures of others can still have the redeeming feature of love, even if he doesn't realise it until it is far too late. This film is not just about Paul Raymond's life and career but also about his relationship with his daughter and how she was ultimately sacrificed to the lifestyle he chose. I'm sure there is a film about the politics of pornography in this story but to have entertained us with it wouldn't have been half as interesting - or successful as I feel this film ultimately is.
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Fun filed and charming
cinematic_aficionado30 April 2013
Charming, witty, intelligent. Had to have it all, but at what cost?

One is almost tempted to pronounce Paul Raymond's story as predictable. Rags to riches story, got corrupted and suffered the consequences. Yet there is something different about Paul Raymond, who came to London from Liverpool with nothing and reached the very top.

By different I don't mean just the fact that he was probably the first entrepreneur to acquire wealth almost exclusively from the "adult entertainment" industry but he founded it since his peak coincided with the beginning of secularisation of Britain and he introduced a very daring sort of entertainment in a highly puritanical society. Being spirited as he were, neither the criticisms or the bad press affected his stamina; he just marched on conquering bigger heights.

With the above in mind, it does not become too challenging to picture an audacious, notorious individual. Or so Steve Cogan aimed to have us believe. I could not envisage an actor better suited for the part. Ultra cool and a charmer, Steve Coogan was Paul Raymond. Mr Raymond was apparently so charming that his shared his extramarital bravados with his wife and for the 1950's (or so) this is spectacular.

The movie places us inside his life and we follow his ups and downs, although we soon become aware that he is a man in mourning. Perhaps a side effect of the poverty he came from, his no limits lifestyle and the way he indulged it to his beloved daughter obviously must have played a part.

It might go down as just another bio of a sale made man, but this film had an added dose of personality that undoubtedly mirrored its central character and the flamboyance he exhumed.

One of the better recent British films.
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9/10
An interesting look into the life of someone I knew nothing about
Chris Martin29 April 2013
I didn't know what to expect from The Look of Love. I like Steve Coogan so gave it a shot. In my opinion it's well worth a watch.

The film is a biopic about Paul Raymond played fantastically by Steve Coogan. For those unfamiliar, like I was before seeing TLOL, Paul Raymond was an entrepreneur who owned a lot of property and strip clubs in London and was at one point Britain's richest man. It's amazing how such a rich guy can go so unheard of, with people my age anyway, yet have such a big empire in London just years ago. S'pose they're not going to teach you about the strip clubs and nudey plays in second year history at school. It made for some really interesting watching.

And not because of the more or less constant boobs in case that's where your mind immediately went there. There is admittedly more graphic nudity in this film than I've ever seen in a film ever but because there is so much of it you kind of get used to it. The novelty of 'tee hee, boobies' fades away pretty quick to make way for a pretty fascinating life story.

My journalism lecturer always said there's nothing more interesting than writing about a famous person 'on the slide' out of fame and power and there's certainly a lot of 'sliding'here. He lives such an extravagant lifestyle with the drugs and ever changing woman you know it'll all catch up with him some day. The whole second half that looks at the unusual relationship between him and his spoilt daughter is pretty captivating. To give you a taste of what their relationship is like, there's a scene where Paul catches his daughter snorting coke. Instead of telling her off and getting angry he insists she mustn't just buy her drugs off the street and to only do the very best. It's a look into a life of excess and irresponsibility which makes for an intriguing watch.

There are a lot of British actors , mostly comedians, in the film.There's actually so many big British names it's almost distracting. There's Coogan obviously who naturally steals the show. But then there's cameos from Stephen Fry, Simon Bird, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Dara O'Briain - the list goes on. All do a good job, even if some are only in it for a matter of seconds, but celebrities like Dara O'Briain don't really come across as fully fledged characters. It just takes you out the film for a few seconds and makes your brain announce 'oh look, it's him from Mock The Week'.

I don't like to talk about cinematography too much as I'm a complete novice but I could tell it's good here. Parts where they talk about Paul Raymond's men-only magazine feel like you're actually flicking through a 70s style dirty mag. The fashion of the time is very prominent with bright zig-zagging colours in his clubs and houses sucking you into the era nicely.

It might not be for everyone is a possible problem- 3 people walked out of our screen halfway through due to what I assume was it's increasing amount of graphic porn scenes. Similarly big action, life changing drama fans may feel a little underwhelmed. If you show a bit of interest and follow the relationship between Raymond and his daughter however you'll find this film to be a surprising little gem.
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7/10
Good enough for the entrance fee
Buscatcher3 May 2013
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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7/10
Solid biopic but the main character is unappealing
Red-Barracuda17 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan team up again. They had previously combined to great effect in 24 Hour Party People and A Cock and Bull Story. It has to be said that, while this is a good enough film, it pales in comparison with those other two. Perhaps the main reason for this is, unlike Tony Wilson from 24 Hour Party People, the main character here isn't very sympathetic at all. Steve Coogan plays Paul Raymond in a similar bumbling way but it doesn't seem as true to character here. Coogan is still good, don't get me wrong, but he seems more on auto-pilot than usual. On paper the cast is really good. It's a who's who of British comedians and comic actors. In practice though, most of them have blink and you'll miss them roles, which was kind of unfortunate. Of the ones who do have bigger parts Chris Addison plays perhaps the least admirable character in the story, Men Only editor Tony Power, a man also with a truly appalling beard. Also Anna Friel is good as Raymond's long suffering wife.

It's a biopic about the porn baron Paul Raymond. But curiously, it lacks a bit of drama. Raymond has already made it when the story begins and the rest just adds further details such as the creation of Men Only magazine or specifics on personal relationships like with Fiona Richmond. Perhaps the main concurrent storyline is about his daughter who ended up dying of a drug overdose, this plot strand is the only one that provides any emotional fall for the central character. Raymond seems to have been a hopeless father, allowing his daughter to take cocaine with little concern and being entirely ambivalent to the existence of his first son. He is also a terrible husband and generally a somewhat sleazy individual. He isn't likable but not horrendous enough to be a great anti-hero.

The Look of Love sometimes feels like an attempt at a British Boogie Nights. It's stylised enough and similarly has a soundtrack that reflects the times. But it doesn't have the energy and fun of that movie. It does have a lot of nudity though that much is for sure. Of especial note on that front is a scene where Anna Friel is photographed while in a bubble bath. She looked pretty fantastic it has to be said. The sexiest moment in a film that doesn't really have very many despite the subject matter. In fairness, this is a good film; just one that I thought would be better considering the personnel involved.
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8/10
A worthy biopic from a solid director
Michael Winterbottom is one of my favourite directors. He makes interesting films, they may not always be the most commercial, and The Look Of Love, will I suspect have a wider appeal than say Welcome To Sarayevo but his films are always interesting and engaging, so long may he continue to make them.

Suffice to say the plot is a rags to riches tail, followed by a fall from grace, what makes this story different is that people who follow such a path don't always drag their children with them, here unfortunately that was the case. A cautious tale of morality the film spans several decades following the life of Porn Baron Paul Raymond, who went on to own Men Only and a string of other magazines, shops and clubs in Soho. I actually met him and his daughter once, though I don't think I knew who they were at the time.

Raymond (Played with appropriate gusto and restrained measure by Steve Coogan, at his best) and his daughter (Imogen Poots, outstanding) were ultimately damaging for each other as shown her. Yes Raymond wasn't the best father he could have been, but once adult his daughter Debbie was an equally bad influence on him. Coke is king in this story, and I am not talking about the type from a can that comes in red. As they both struggle with their own addictions, their worlds clash and full out of control.

While Raymond, may have been to many simply a shrewd businessman and not all that likable, Winterbottom and Coogan do well her to give him a balanced portrayal - Clearly a doting father and a generous man to those around him who were his friends Raymond is at least seen as human, though the cold and callous way in which in dealt with his estranged son was awful and brought home difficult memories for me. This is not just a tale about a man who made his fortune in erotica and porn. It's story of a grieving father who failed to heed the warning signs he was given and steer his daughter back on the right path, and ultimately paid the price.

James Lance plays Raymond's long time lawyer friend in a rather two dimensional role and does well to put meat on the bone and other appearances from a number of comic and acting talents from the UK fill out every role possible.

Production design here is first rate, with the Soho of the 1970s and 1980s which (the latter) I remember all too well recreated superbly and the lavish flat of Raymonds can well be believed, designed as he loves to tell all who will listen by Ringo Star.

Like many who rise to the top, Raymond was ultimately a tortured soul, who found it impossible to stay in one relationship and tragically lost the people he loved the most. It is not surprising that he became a recluse and died very much alone.

Still despite the tragedy in his life, you cannot say he didn't live it to the full.

A very enjoyable two hours of my time and a great role for Coogan. Adwards surely here must go though, to Imogen Poots, her performance is pitch perfect as the rich kid who was not immune to her own insecurities and struggled to find happiness. Hopefully they are now both united again in a better place.
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9/10
Surprisingly Powerful, Insightful and Entertaining
Andrew Stanley25 August 2013
I knew nothing about Paul Raymond and this film before a few hours ago. I decided to watch it because the title reminded me of ABC's The Look of Love song which played at the credits of Hamlet 2 which, funny enough, starred Steve Coogan (the song is a favorite of mine).

You might be wondering why I'm rating this a 10 and it's because I read Felix Dennis's "How to Get Rich," which is his honest telling/recollection of his own story about becoming filthy, filthy rich and living the kind of lifestyle that he did (Dennis is the founder of Maxim Magazine) and this movie captures a certain essence in which I felt was present in Dennis's book (coincidentally, Paul Raymond was the founder of "Men Only" which I had no idea about prior to watching this film).

Although this is just a movie, it's an interpretation, and I understand there are a lot of parts untold and whatnot, but because it shared certain strong similarities to Dennis's story, I can't help but use it as a powerfully insightful reflection of what it can be like to be in the shoes of someone like Paul Raymond or Felix Dennis, as well as those who are close to them, to compare/contrast who I am, and what I really want to experience in my own life.

I'm the kind of person who always takes away from a movie a positive effect, but this one in particular really resonated with me, probably because I read Dennis's book several months ago and immediately recognized the connection, but it was also very, very entertaining and there was plenty of heart that went into making this film -- I was engrossed from beginning to end.
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5/10
Citizen Porn
clivey629 April 2013
Steve Coogan was turned down for the lead in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, losing out to Geoffrey Rush, and I get the feeling this is his attempts to compensate. It is a biopic with a retro look, encompassing the same era and focused on an oft unsympathetic individual who goes on to neglect his wife and kids.

The problem is that Sellers was a man of a hundred faces while Paul Raymond seems to have none, he always came across as a deeply uncharismatic, grey little man so instead Coogan pastes his own TV persona onto him. It's not quite Partridge, but we've seen it before in 24 Hour Party People and in things like Tristram Shandy and The Trip, where Coogan plays an unflattering version of himself - sort of narcissistic, insecure, a bit sarcastic and witty, not without flair.

I didn't mind this in the Tony Wilson biopic, largely because that was played for laughs and also looked outwards to the whole Manchester music scene, but I did mind it here. We really have no clearer idea of Raymond's personality at the end of it - it maybe should have looked at the hangers on a bit more and the world of Soho generally. What's more, the pop music tends to date better than soft porn. For this to be a celebration of the Raymond Revue Bar, you'd have to contrast the buxom babes with the dour, pinched women of the era, starchy Margot Ledbetters and Margaret Thatchers, with hornrimmed spectacles and never a day in the gym. (Not saying the blokes looked much better back then to be fair. A quick look on Google Images reveals that the real Raymond was severely balding even by the mid 1960s, so must have sported a heavy hairpiece for his lothario years.)

Imogen Poots is poignant as his daughter, and they try to make out she's the same fit as newspaper proprietor Kane's wife, with similar ill-advised showbiz ambitions. Poots gets to sing the title track rather affectingly, the other song on a loop is Anyone Who Had a Heart, so maybe they were going to go with that title for the film at one point. But it's all very broadly written, and too much improvised it seems. Chris Addison impresses as one of the hangers- on, but I couldn't help thinking (due to his look in this) that we'd be better watching a history of Radio 1, with Addison as DLT and Coogan as the odious Jimmy Savile.

As for other stars, Stephen Fry plays a judge and is in this for less than a minute, David Walliams has a recurring cameo as a lecherous vicar, the sort of role that Terry Scott would have played, but is given no backstory or context to speak of, while Matt Lucas plays a stage character for all of 30 seconds. So don't be fooled by scrolling down the cast list, it's fairly slim pickings and at times it resembles those awful No Sex Please We're British movies of the day. You do get a fair bit of sex, with coke snorting atop many a bare breast, so it's not one to watch with the folks, but I can't say it's quite as erotic as I'd like, maybe because tastes have moved on since then.
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7/10
Look for love
kosmasp12 August 2013
Another reviewer stated, that this is not as engaging as other Steve Coogan and Winterbottom collaborations. I won't comment on that, but try not to think in those categories if you can, because your movie viewing experience will suffer. You shouldn't compare previous works with the newer ones. In this case, Steve Coogan makes an otherwise not very likable character at least interesting. And that is sufficient enough to carry the movie through.

At least in my book. Steve Coogan had obviously fun playing this character and it is showing on the screen. Of course there are some usual clichés you get thrown at you, but it's almost impossible making a movie of this size, that is at least a bit commercial, without stepping into them. If you don't mind too much, you will get an entertaining enough movie to pass the time.

If the real "Paul Raymond" was half as charming as Steve Coogan in this, than you understand his charm. You also should be aware, that there is a lot of nudity (not really a big surprise considering the theme of the movie).
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6/10
Well acted but unfocused
freemantle_uk3 May 2013
Paul Raymond was fascinating figure, being the richest man in Britain, making his fortune from exclusive men's clubs, publishing softcore pornography and having a massive property portfolio. He based his reputation on controversy, using notoriety to get more attention which results with him getting more sells. But he had a troubled relationship with the women of his life, his wife, his lover and his daughter.

Steve Coogan plays Raymond, a Liverpoolian lad who starred out as entertainer but quickly moved to working behind the scenes and starring to run exclusive men's clubs with his wife Jean (Anna Friel). During his rise he makes a fortune, stretching the bounds of public decency when he moves to theatre and publishing. During his rise he forms a relationship with Amber (Tamsin Egerton) who becomes Fiona Richmond, a famous British sex symbol, leading to him having the largest divorce settlement in British legal history and stay close with his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) who he sees has his heir apparent but has a massive drug addiction.

As the subject for a bio-pic Paul Raymond for both his business achievements and his personal life: but The Look of Love stretches itself too thin, not knowing where to focus and therefore making for a shallow experience. The Look of Love was a film that tried to fit too much and we end up getting scenes and elements of Raymond's live going by too fast or come out of nowhere, such as Raymond meeting his illegitimate son. It felt like the film was gutted in the editing room with how it only briefly on many different aspects such as the controversies, his rise in business and a sex scandal just to name a few.

The Look of Love was written by Matt Greenhalgh who has written two excellent bio-pics, Control and Nowhere Boy. The strength of those films are they were both were very focused on a specific area of their character's lives, John Lennon and his relationship with his mother and Ian Curtis' epilepsy and depression. The Look of Love has a different approach of looking at a much larger time period and look at many different aspects of Raymond's life. It can be argued that the films main focus is on his relationships with women and by the end the main focus is his relationship with his daughter.

Despite The Look of Love has a comedy cast the film is a very serious tone and performances. Coogan does give a very good dramatic performance and it good to see him taking different roles. He does have some witty lines but on the whole it was a serious role. It was actually surprising that the audience laughed during a scene which was very serious when Raymond ends up having to make a line of cocaine for his daughter when she was giving birth. Egerton, Poots , Friel and Chris Addison too were solid in their roles, but Davad Williams' role was extremely minor that it felt pointless to the point where his role seemed like it was mostly cut and people like Stephen Fry and Dara O Briain were camoes.

Director Michael Winterbottom does inject a lot of period detail to the film and there are some stylist moments when he does montages. There is a different look to each period, the 50/60s being shot in the black and white, his rise in the 70s being quite bright and need the end having more gritty cinematography. But like his previous film that I saw, Trinsha, it has a paradox of feeling both too short and too long for both skipping over elements and yet having a slow pace. One moment I enjoyed was a quick 30 second scene done in one take as Jean confronts Amber/Fiona with the camera following her.

On the whole The Look of Look is a very well acted film which is its greatest strength, but does not know where to turn which part of its subject matter it should examine.
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6/10
Sympathy for the....
claraffrench24 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A biopic of Paul Raymond. A good idea on paper,as indeed it started out,based on Paul Willets biography Members Only.But the process of distilling a life into 400 pages and then again into a film leads to a feeling that The Look of Love is merely a series of anecdotes strung together.

The story is told mainly in flashback,Raymond watching a documentary about himself and his daughter Debbie,for whom at the outset of the film we are informed things haven't panned out too well. It reminds me a bit of Milk, which the first time I saw I missed the first 5 minutes of and the denouement shocked me more than anyone else,perhaps the poignancy of Debbie's story shouldn't have been flagged up so obviously.

Debbie is played beautifully by Imogen Poots,for me the stand out actor.She has a radiant delicacy about her,you cannot help but feel sorry for her character being born into a family which would seemingly inevitably bring about her destruction.

Anna Friel plays Raymond's long-suffering wife.Initially she and Raymond appear in black and white,we all know the 50's was monochrome after all.Jean Bradley was from Nottinghamshire and I think a stronger accent would have lent more to the role.Friel's character has to age about 30 years in the course of the film,the only indication of which is she looks as grey in her last colour scene as she did in her b&w youth. Along the way we are treated to a gratuitous photo- shoot,Men Only mag montage,which having seen the film twice I think may exist in two different cuts. I hope they go with the one I saw in Glasgow.

The weakest female performance is Tamsin Egerton as Fiona Richmond. I wonder if her being the only protagonist still alive lead to the wishy-washiness of the part,there isn't much for Egerton to get her teeth into but what there is seems more filler and not prime beef.

So to Steve Coogan. I find it hard to believe Raymond did impressions of Sean Connery and Marlon Brando to "amuse" his friends. Isn't that what Coogan does? Over and over again. Raymond,I posit,a deeply unsympathetic character,is seen here very much through an Alan Partridge filter.The laughs generated seem to come from Coogan's ad libs rather than the wit and wisdom of Raymond.The films opening line to camera should have been 'I'm Paul Raymond,welcome to my world of erotic-ah-ha'

If Raymond was thought worthy of having his life visualised for posterity maybe a three part TV series would have been preferable,the rise in repressed post-war Britain,the tawdry pornucopic 70's plateau,the substance-fuelled decline and fall. I'm not sure if this version will find an audience tragi-comedies are hard to pull- off and I don't think this film has.
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6/10
A comedy-drama that never needed to be funny
Likes_Ninjas9025 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Winterbottom's The Look of Love is a comedy-drama that never needed to be funny. The film is above all else a tragedy about how a man's wealth and his real estate empire clouded his judgment in all of his relationships. He earned his wealth through establishing his Revue Bars in Soho, the West End of London during the late 1950s. These bars featured nude female models, who were allowed to move on stage, which was deemed illegal at the time.

Raymond then established his Men's Only magazine, which was a pornographic publication. His rise in wealth and property through the 60s and 70s led for him to be titled by the mid-90s as "The King of Soho". Paul Raymond was declared in 1992 to be one of the richest men in Britain. He died in 2008 with a fortune that was said to be worth over six-hundred million dollars.

This is the fourth film Winterbottom has made with Steve Coogan, after Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, The Trip and 24 Hour Party People. Coogan specialises in playing shallow, self-absorbed, stuffy characters. His performance as Raymond is familiar but extremely engaging and darkly funny. Accompanied by some hilariously silly innuendo-laden dialogue, he uses his voice to express the pompousness and artificialness of Raymond's self-made identity.

He values his wealth and celebrity image over sustained relationships. One of the stories he repeats is that his apartment was designed by Ringo Starr. A tracking shot as he walks through the room shows the sustained but untouched and unfulfilled construct of his lifestyle. In the context of censorship laws, the incredibly frank and confronting stage shows have a historical resonance, which is further complimented by their utter ridiculousness. Some of Raymond's stage ideas, like combing Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun on stage with nude female models, are strange and hilarious.

Yet Paul Raymond is also in many ways a terrible man. His wife Jean (Anna Friel) willingly lets him cheat on her and he relates to his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots), not through ordinary parental wisdom, but the advice of a business partner. When she eats all of the cakes he buys for her, he tells her that they're not all for her but for the other girls so that she'll have friends. Similarly, when she cries about being cut from one his shows as a singer he doesn't reassure her about future but argues that he can't let the show keep bleeding money.

What the screenplay from first time writer Matt Greenhalgh lacks is a deeper understanding of both the reactions and the immobility of the characters. The film is about Raymond's relationships with three different women and despite all of the ones that he sleeps with, works with and exploits, he understands none of them. Rather unintentionally, the film is like this too.

The female characters contradict themselves in confusing ways. His first wife knows about his affairs but is still surprised and upset when he finally leaves her. His mistress Fiona (Tamsin Egerton) is no fool either. She writes for his magazine and models in his shows. She engages with him and other women in acts of threesomes but leaves him when he can't offer a normal life.

The film is extremely alert to Raymond letting his own daughter fatally self-destruct through her cocaine addiction (he advises her to buy the good stuff) but at the end the film still makes an attempt to reach for our undeserving sympathy. The image of the supposedly talentless daughter singing beautifully over the end credits is also a confusing one.

If the film was not told through such a rigid, episodic structure, treating the lives of characters like small vignettes (cancer, marriage and addiction), there would have been stronger ongoing threads of conflict and more time invested into understanding these characters. Some of them are truly sadder than funny.
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6/10
An ill disciplined but well performed biopic of a British eccentric
johnnymurphy1514 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Yet another collaboration with the Director Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan, and their second biopic together, the last one being 24 Hour Party People. It seems like Michael Winterbottom thinks that Steve Coogan has a knack for portraying charismatic men with too much money and who are innovators of their time. He is right, Steve Coogan puts in one of his best performances.

Steve Coogan plays Paul Raymond, the king of Soho. He earns this title because he was responsible for owning many of the strip joints in that area of London. We are taken through a wild ride from the beginnings of his travelling nudie shows, to the sophisticated private mens clubs of Soho, to porn publication to being a property magnate. The story mainly focuses on the three main women in his life. First his wife Jean (Anna Friel), his girlfriend Amber (Tamsin Egerton) , who later changes her name to Fiona Richmond when she becomes a famous model, and his daughter Debbie (wonderfully played by Imogen Poots). Paul Raymond likes to have open relationships with multiple women in which Jean has a liberal attitude towards, but when this starts to take its toll on the relationship and family life, he is drawn to the young and seductive Amber. He introduces her to his world and gets her parts in various nude stage plays and ends up having a long term relationship with her. His daughter Debbie comes back into his life and is also introduced into the excesses of Paul's life. She gets into all the drugs and the partying which meet a tragic end. This is mentioned at the start of the film while we see a dejected Paul Raymond being hounded by reporters. He proceeds into a dark room and watches a film of the 'glory days', and this is what the film becomes. A series of memories through the eyes of a man who has seen better days.

It is another one of those what-comes-up-must-come-down films where a man starts off with nothing, then becomes the richest man in Britain through his publication of magazines like 'Men Only' and 'Razzle' and through property. However, it is still fun to watch because despite Paul's selfish ways, he is a likable and charismatic man who conducts his business well and really believes in what he is doing. He maintains throughout that what he is doing is not pornography or exploitation and uses negative press condemning the nudity in his plays humorously to his advantage. It also shows mostly the vulnerable side to Paul, mainly through his relationship to his daughter Debbie. He basically picks her as his favourite and has little to no part in his sons life. The scene between the two characters are a mixture of happy moments and disturbingly damaging moments. He spoils her rotten, lets her snort an enormous amount of cocaine and lets her party far too much. One disturbing scene is when Debbie is in labour and Paul gives her a line of cocaine to ease the pain. The continual drug taking only gets worse, and on top of that, she is diagnosed with breast cancer! She eventually dies of a heroin overdose and this has a massive effect on Paul as she was the one who was to inherit his empire. He then picks his oldest grand daughter as his favourite towards the end of the film, posing the question, has he learn-ed anything and will he ever change? The answer being no if the dejected man watching his past is anything to go by.

We see much of todays British comedic talent turn up in this film. David Walliams has a minor part as a lecherous vicar, Matt Lucas has a cameo, Chris Addison has a major role and puts in a good performance and Simon Bird (Will from the Inbetweeners) has a small part. He turns up wearing a ridiculous wig and sporting an equally ridiculous moustache and marries Debbie briefly, then does not turn up in the film again. That is one of the big flaws of the film. It covers 4 decades of a mans eventful life, but some events still seemed rushed. It is merely mentioned that Debbie had a close relationship with Fiona Richmond, but this is never shown. Also, a different husband (or maybe boyfriend) of Debbies turns up later in the film, but we didn't even know her marriage ended. I have a feeling there was a more fleshed out script, but it was edited due to time constraints.

It was an entertaining look at an industry which is shown impartially. Whether you think Paul Raymond is a purvey sexist or a liberator is down to your point of view, the film only hints at what Paul Raymond thinks. I thought he was a damaging person who made bad choices which led him to being lonely and unhappy to his death. Yet another case of money does not necessarily buy you happiness.

Check out my film review blog - www.projectionistreview.wordpress.com
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5/10
lack of angle, no layers and textures of characters, a waste of good chance.
Moobee1 September 2013
this is a movie filled up with event and facts but no characters, no detail on characters' world, they are acting on the surface, the script is the problem, it should be worked into textures and layers of these colourful characters rather than just covered them with events and what's happen,

they could edit some scenes out which director just show what's happen but not take them further to a better storytelling; stories happened to build the characters so we viewers can sympathize with them. You don't feel for any of the characters here. it's such a shame. this movie has no angle to this special group of people.....

All the emotion is not quite there, never gets to the point and ends at the surfaces. the film wasted these casting since they can do more than what's in the film. We all know how well they can act for such a colourful Raymond's world.
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7/10
Coogan brings his chameleonship to the role of Paul Raymond
Rave Child18 February 2013
Michael Winterbottom understands how to get the best from Steve Coogan.

This, his fourth feature film working with Coogan, has him utilising both the well cultured comedic timing of Coogan and his remarkable ability to evoke sympathy from characters that would otherwise be seen as deplorable.

Coogan this time brings his chameleonship to the role of Paul Raymond, a pioneer in the British adult magazine industry.

A hedonist by nature, Raymond seemingly has everything you would expect from leading such a lifestyle; the admiration of young women, expensive cars, an excessive wealth, which has bought him half the properties in Soho and all the drugs that a party hard club owner in the 70s could desire.

Winterbottom seems obsessed with the 70s, having previously made 24 Hour Party People (also starring Coogan) a film set in the tail end of the decade charting the rising profile of the Manchester music scene...
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6/10
Coogan + Winterbottom = Bronze (this time).
stemal-119 August 2013
3 of my favourite films have been directed by Michael Winterbottom and starred Steve Coogan. A Cock And Bull Story, 24 Hour Party People and The Trip (in the UK we were lucky enough to see the full TV series, but the movie version was great as well).

This isn't as good, but still entertaining. When I was pubescent, Paul Raymond's Men Only magazine was a must-read if you could get an adult to buy it for you, and Fiona Richmond was someone you thought you might just have a chance with if you got to meet her. In short, this film meant a lot to me.

My problem with this is that it's all far too glossy. Soho in the 60/70/80's and there isn't a villain in sight and everything going on is fairly innocuous? And I really liked Paul Raymond, but to survive in that environment there must have been more to him.

Anyway, an enjoyable film overall. And I went away with that final close-up on Imogen Poots as Debbie singing the title song almost breaking my heart.
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3/10
Terrible
Rodolphe Fleury29 April 2013
Cliché of a biopic, unfocused, the film doesn't know if its about Raymond's life or his empire or his relationship with his daughter, it's trying really quickly to cover far too many events in 100 minutes

It's fast for no reason, badly filmed, badly edited, not engaging, you don't feel much when his daughter dies, which should be tragic,

There's a few good ideas of film making, like the photo shoot that looks like Men Only ages with kitschy artwork alas it's really poorly executed

Steve Coogan is insufferable in this film, he's not acting anything else than him, you just ve the feeling of watching a film about him in costume period, shame for the female actress who are all excellent

There's too many dialogues, some of them are good but some are just unnecessary , it just makes the film suffocating and leaves very little space for emotions

You just have the feeling the film was wrapped up in two days, I'm usually a big fan of Winterbottom but I must say I'm clearly unimpressed with this

It's trying hard to be original but it's just another biopic with fast editing and a few breaking walls,

With material like Paul Raymond's fascinating life it's a shame to end up with such a terribly flawed film

It's mildly entertaining but mostly very boring
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7/10
Biopic of a Fundamentally Empty Man
l_rawjalaurence11 April 2014
Recounting the life of porn king and entrepreneur Paul Raymond, THE LOOK OF LOVE tells the story of a self-made man, born Geoffrey Quinn, who rose to become Britain's richest man. He achieved this by buying innumerable properties and setting up a porn empire that at its height included the Raymond Revuebar, the Windmill Theatre, the Whitehall Theatre, plus two best-selling magazines, "Men Only" and "Club International." Despite such success, Raymond - as characterized by Steve Coogan - remained a fundamentally unhappy man. Obsessed with the idea of proving his virility, he spent most of his time bedding young women as well as taking vicarious pleasure in watching women perform various sex acts on stage. Although his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) was devoted to him, Raymond remained indifferent to her - unless, that is, she could make more money for him, He cast her in an ill-starred revue, "Royalty Follies," in a leading role for which she was completely unsuited. The only time Raymond actually missed her was at her death due to a drug overdose. Michael Winterbottom's film makes no judgment on Raymond, but nonetheless suggests the emptiness of the world he created - neither titillating nor sexy, it simply treated women as objects. The film does a brilliant job of recreating the seedy Soho world of the Sixties and Seventies, with its grimy streets and tatty shops. Steve Coogan does a wonderful job in the leading role; he is proving to be a talented performer in a variety of vehicles. THE LOOK OF LOVE contains a gallery of cameo roles from British comedians, including Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, David Wallians and Miles Jupp; but its story remains a fundamentally melancholy one to tell.
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3/10
Expected more! 3/10
leonblackwood25 August 2013
Review: This movie starts off well but then it goes downhill once the relationship between Paul Raymond and his daughter gets introduced. The movie focuses on a period in his life more than his legacy, which is a shame because I found him quite interesting. All of the actors put in good performances and I liked the wit that was put into the script, but I did get bored after a while. Steve Coogan played his part well, taking into consideration that he is coming from a comedy background, but I was hoping for a deeper look into the tycoon. It ends without much explanation about what happened to Paul Raymond and his family and I would have like to see some real footage, either on the bonus material on the DVD or even at the end of the movie. I honestly think that the director cold have done much better with such an interesting individual. Disappointing!

Round-Up: Judging by the money that this movie had made, audiences obviously didn't like the directors interpretation of Paul Raymond's life. I hadn't heard of him before watching this movie so I found his story quite interesting. I didn't know that Soho had been controlled by one person and how the whole empire started so it was a bit of an eye opener. I would like to see a proper biopic though.

Budget: N/A Worldwide Gross: $16,000 (Terrible!)

I recommend this movie to people who like there graphic dramas about Paul Raymond and a period of his life. 3/10
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Poorly executed drama with little to pique interest
Gordon-1117 July 2013
This film is about a controversial adult entertainment tycoon who made a fortune in the West End of London decades ago.

"The Look of Love" is a biopic about an interesting character, it could have had so much potential to be portraying morally questionable individuals in glamorous and exotic settings. The film concentrates on Paul Raymond' love life and his adult magazine, with little character and plot development. Characters are so poorly introduced that I got so confused by simple stuff like how many children he had. The end result is that I didn't care for any of the characters. The abundance of nudity was not shown artistically either, as other similar films somehow managed.

"The Look of Love" is long and boring due to its a poorly executed plot. It is a degrading mess that I feel sorry for the people involved, especially the nude actresses. And I think the film is such a misnomer, Paul Raymond's on screen character is about every bit love does not look like.
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5/10
Naked ladies, dirty mags, drugs.... how could this be so boring?
SnoopyStyle24 August 2013
The life of Paul Raymond, the controversial entrepreneur who became Britain's richest man. I guess that's the tagline. The guy is surrounded by naked girls. But why is this so boring? I found the most truthful line in the movie. During Debra's wedding, one guest comments "This is more like a f**king funeral." Well that's the whole movie.

Michael Winterbottom directs this and it's professionally done. It looks good. There are great actors here. Steve Coogan is Paul Raymond. Anna Friel is the wife. Imogen Poots is the daughter. Tamsin Egerton is the new love interest. They are fine in their roles. But there is definite lack of drama here.

Part of the problem is that the story is told in chronological order. His rise to the top is as boring as can be. There is one dramatic relationship in his life. The only relationship that truly mattered to him in this movie was to his daughter. There is a good dramatic story there. Too bad it's only secondary in this autopilot version. Winterbottom needed to find the most dramatic and compelling part of his life and concentrate a laser on it.
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5/10
middling and inert--film never even begins to engage you the way other coogan/winterbottom films have
Matthew Stechel19 July 2013
The Look of Love from Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom was definitely something to look forward to--between the two of them they've cooked up 24 Hour Party People, Tristam Shandy, and The Trip--all three of which are top notch films in many ways. They're all moving and quite funny in addition to being very well done dramatic portrayals of guys begrudgingly reflecting back on the choices they've made in their life as well. This film has the latter part but nowhere near the good humor of the former part. Its possible the two men wanted to play the seriousness of Coogan's character's plight for straight dramatic value or maybe they felt that the character being portrayed wouldn't be as funny as the ones Coogan played in the other films, either way the movie itself mostly just lays there on screen. There's not much to engage you or pull you into the story this time around and Coogan's character who's supposed to be the central figure of this "character study" never begins to come across as a vivid, fully fleshed out person the way he does in the other films...i kept waiting for the details of his life to get filled in but the film mostly glosses over the details that would've made his character someone to root for (or against) Instead what we get is a barely there stick figure, you can sympathize with some of the things his character has to goes through towards the end, but you can never fully feel for his character.

Coogan plays somewhat of a British Larry Flynt here...someone who becomes a wildly successful entrepreneur and real estate tycoon on the strength of a pornographic empire and his successful attempts to have frequent nudity and stripping in proper polite public society. Its said at the end of the movie that his character was the richest man in Britian in the mid 2000's,--tho the film itself is set during the late 70's/early 80's (Relying on the soundtrack to tell you when you are is what i did, as Donnovan's "Sunshine Superman" pops up towards the beginning, and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" pops up in the last half hour, i got that we were moving from the 70's thru the 80's here but its honestly hard to tell because there are so many different period signifyers all kind of just thrown on screen.)

The film's storyline involves Coogan's ever evolving relationship with his daughter whom he refuses to leave when he walks out on his wife and son, apparently he shares a significant bond with her, we're told that she's a lot like him character wise and you can see why that is as the story moves on. When she ends up being kicked out of boarding school, against his better instincts he ends up taking her on as a performer (she wants to be a singer) and eventually a full on partner in his various business dealings. The bulk of the story is essentially how the business he very successfully built for himself ends up destroying his own daughter little by little (you know it isn't very long before she ends up over-indulging in drugs and the lifestyle in general and getting in way over her head, etc, etc) Meanwhile Coogan keeps whatever difficult emotions he's feeling bottled up while witnessing the slow decline of his daughter, preferring to over-indulge in the nightlife himself.

This could have all been a nicely effecting story about a guy who never took the time to share or process his feelings towards the other people in his life suddenly having to grapple with the choices he had made having such a significant effect on the one true loved on in his life. Unfortunately, again, none of it really comes across--i don't know if this is because Coogan's character steadfastly refuses to take responsibility for his actions, or because Winterbottom purposefully keeps Coogan's character at such a remote distance from the audience that again it ends up being difficult to feel for him when the difficulties in his life start up. You can see how much pride he takes in how he presents himself to everyone else, and how little else matters to him which may be the point, but it doesn't make it any easier to latch onto him as the main character in a movie. Unlike the other three films the star and director made together, the film's central character never comes across as an even remotely likable person so the attempt in the last half hour or so to make him more relatable to the audience never works because you were never really on his wavelength as a person/character to begin with.

As a whole, the film is an interesting attempt at doing a whole seedy 70's esque character study, but it just doesn't quite work as a whole and while Coogan does get in a good handful of one liners--although those are so few and far between one another tho that they might as well have not even been there tho i was thankful while watching it that they were-- so while itself is never exactly a dead zone, the film overall is way too inert to really pull you into the world of its central character and that is sadly the complete opposite of what the other 3 films the star and director have done together.
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7/10
Coogan was brilliant.
Bana252 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Coogan was excellent in this, the whole part with him and his daughter passing away was extremely well done and certainly jerked the heart strings, after watching this I read lots on his life, it was very sad to see his only real love was his daughter and after her nothing replaced her, and he lived a recluse much like Howard Hughes did in his high rise Penthouse, all his money when he died went to distant relatives who now live in his Penthouse rich without a worry in the world, and probably without knowing what went on there. Coogan is a good serious actor, I would like to see him in more things like this, he is a very versatile actor.
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7/10
A generous take on a slightly dark industry
bowmanblue13 August 2014
'The Look of Love' tells the story of the first 'porn baron' of London, Paul Raymond - arguable the richest man in England to ever make his money in such an industry.

The first thing you need to know is that the casting of Steve Coogan is a sheer masterpiece. He's every bit believable as the sleazy, low-life kid from Liverpool who made his fortune in London. It's his film and he carries it well. There are a few famous faces popping up here and there and they all play their parts well, too. However, I thought the best co-star was (The Thick of It-famed) Chris Addison, playing yet another slimebag to perfection.

If you're even vaguely offended by (female) nudity, or drug usage, then you probably shouldn't watch this. Both vices are frequently portrayed from the opening act to the end.

Ultimately, the film charts the highs and the lows of Paul Raymond's career, although, if you investigate the man himself, you may feel that Coogan's portrayal of him and his industry is quite kindly. Sex, drugs and pornography are shown as the norm, rarely damaging anyone's life (other than the protagonist's). But that could be down to the film's running time being quite a condensed ninety minutes. Therefore, we're probably left to put two and two together to realise that such vices can sometimes carry far darker consequences.

If you're expecting 'Alan Partridge' Coogan then you may be disappointed. The Look of Love is not that funny, but then it's not really meant to be. It's a (generous) life story of a very interesting may who was certainly not a saint. If you're a fan of Coogan, or just curious to know what goes on behind those alluring neon lights in Soho then give this one a go.

http://thewrongtreemoviereviews.blogspot.co.uk/
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6/10
weak script
christopher-underwood9 January 2014
Finally caught up with this film and felt that it began very strongly, beautifully evoking those early Paul Raymond days as he dragged Soho and indeed Britain out of the drab post war 50s and into what would become known as the 'swing sixties'. Steve Coogan is excellent but after abut twenty or thirty minutes and we have seen the early shows recreated and the neon light red light district come alive we are drawn further into the private life of the man. This is interesting enough, at first, but the real story here is what Raymond did in terms of liberating us inhibited Brits and in building his property and sex empire. In the end this degenerates into simply one more line of coke. We are also asked to become involved in the tragedy of the life of his daughter but we don't care. The weak script has not allowed for the necessary empathy to develop and we are left to watch despairingly as all comes depressingly undone.
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