The Look of Love


Biography / Comedy


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August 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm


Steve Coogan as Paul Raymond
Matt Lucas as Matron Behind Bars
Anna Friel as Jean Raymond
Imogen Poots as Debbie Raymond
720p 1080p
803.61 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 41 min
P/S 2 / 10
1.63 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 41 min
P/S 3 / 10

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jonrosling 8 / 10

A Look of the Sixties

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.

Reviewed by Red-Barracuda 7 / 10

Solid biopic but the main character is unappealing

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.

Reviewed by cinematic_aficionado ( 5 / 10

Fun filed and charming

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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