April 3, 2014

They were uglier in real life

The Look of Love (Michael Winterbottom, 2013). If the Coogan/Winterbottom partnership has been running in parallel with the DiCaprio/Scorsese one, maybe The Look of Love is their Wolf of Wall Street. Rename it The Smut-peddler of Soho (indeed, The King of Soho was the original title). The biopic’s subject is Paul Raymond, property developer, strip club proprietor, lad mag owner, but Winterbottom, Steve Coogan and writer Matt Greenhalgh (Control, Nowhere Boy) don’t have much of a point of view on him or his times. Is he a tragic figure? Is he comic? (Coogan is more comfortable with the comic, busting out a Sean Connery impression.) It’s at its strongest when it focuses on the downward spiral of Raymond’s relationship with his daughter Debbie (a very good Imogen Poots), and at its weakest in the repetitive sex, coke and disco montages that are compulsory in films about pornographers (“That 70s montage”, they call it, in relation to American Hustle), as we go from topless innocence to seedy experience.