Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Look of Love Movie Review

Tamsin Egerton and Steve Coogan (r) in The Look of Love

Soho, Sex and Sophistication

'My name is Paul Raymond. Welcome to my world of erotica.' Most Americans have probably never even heard of Raymond, AKA the "King of Soho;" but not too long ago, he was purported to be the richest man in all of England. The colorful publisher and founder of Great Britain's first strip club is depicted with titillating flair by Steve Coogan in Michael Winterbottom's The Look of Love, a splashy yet stylish affair if ever there was one.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: The true tale of British adult magazine publisher and entrepreneur Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan of "24 Hour Party People", "The Trip.") A modern-day King Midas, Raymond became one of the richest men in Britain - at the cost of losing those closest to him.

What’s Best: Coogan makes a great choice to play one of England's all-time flashiest characters. Long underrated, it's roles like this that hopefully raise the 3x BAFTA award winner's profile stateside. Easy going to a fault (he's shown giving cocaine to his daughter as she gives birth in a hospital) Coogan's Raymond is easy going and unpretentious: He even drives his own Rolls for the first half of the movie. Of course, it's not easy to look favorably upon a person who routinely cheats on his wife and girlfriend (played by super hottie Tamsin Egerton) while single handedly promoting the porn industry. Truth is, Coogan is downright lovable as he voices Marlon Brando and Sean Connery... perhaps even enough to soften the blow of doing drugs/partying with his beloved daughter Debbie, proficiently portrayed by Imogen Poots (Fright Night.)

What’s Not: I hope you like nudity, because there's plenty of it throughout this film. Unfortunately Winterbottom's biopic tends to be a little too carefree for this reviewer. Sure, you see all the glitz and glamour (as well as some of the eventual pitfalls that come with it) but The Look of Love fails to dig deep enough into what makes the British version of Hugh Hefner (minus the pajamas) tick. One notable example is a first (and presumably only) visit with a bastard son, who Raymond dismisses as casually as a door-to-door salesman. It's hard to believe that anyone could be so callous (although the end credits show that he was completely left out of the elder Raymond's will.) I wanted to learn more.

Best Line: When a reporter asks Raymond how his career began, Paul replies, 'I realized that people like to look at attractive girls, and they like it even more if the girls have no clothes on. So in that sense, I can read people's minds.' Hard to believe that beat out, 'We've got dolphins pulling knickers off girls: What's not to like?' At least he's not afraid to speak his mind.

Overall: Winterbottom's pace is a bit annoying at times. Paul arranges a three-way as daughter Debbie tries cocaine for the first time, yet the movie bounces on... seemingly oblivious to the significance of it all. In fact, most of the film flies by from one unimportant moment to the next. Thankfully the road to nowhere is lined with Coogan, Egerton and a number of funny moments (Rev. Young, Debbie's singing.) I enjoyed it a lot; but can't help but wonder what could have been, with closer examination here and there.