THE LOOK OF LOVE: A REVIEW

Another fine review from Salty Kernel, ANDREW BRUSENTSEV, for the latest Michael Winterbottom film starring his long time film companion, Steve Coogan. Enjoy it – it is releasing into art house cinemas in Australia from June 27th care of Madman Films.

THE LOOK OF LOVE is in essence a biopic of the life and times of Paul Raymond, gentlemen’s club owner, publisher of men’s magazines, and one of Britain’s largest property owners. He also died in 2008 as Britain’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $1.3 Billion.

 

MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM'S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN - REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN
MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM’S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN – REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN

 

This British production was helmed by Michael Winterbottom, who has an envious directing reputation and starring one of his favourite go to stars, Steve Coogan. This Coogan/ Winterbottom combination has been very successful – 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE and THE TRIP, both excellent movies that did well at the box office and also won critical acclaim. Both are accomplished in their own right.

It was written for screen by Matt Greenhalgh who seems an excellent choice having made very brave warts-and-all biopics such as the brilliant CONTROL (the life of Ian Curtis) and John Lennon in NOWHERE BOY.

I was expecting greatness but whereas 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE gave us a fantastic re-imagining splashed with fans adoration into the life of Tony Wilson and the Manchester music scene, this may have missed it’s mark a bit.

 

MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM'S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN - REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN
MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM’S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN – REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN

 

THE LOOK OF LOVE is impressively acted, don’t get me wrong, Steve Coogan is not only a supremely gifted comedian but also a fine actor. His Paul Raymond from the video clip research that I have done is quite accurate down to mannerisms and speech pattern. He does his job well with the script presented. The other cast members Anna Friel, as his wife Jean Raymond, and Tamsin Egerton, as Jean Raymond, his long-time lover are also very solid. Kudos should also go to Imogen Poots as his daughter Debbie; she has the lion’s share of screen time along with Coogan. Debbie, unlike his two sons (both left with his two divorced wives respectively), was adored by Raymond. She was anointed his successor and probably shared the most in his “world”. Her death from drugs and the high life shows the darker side of Paul’s lifestyle and perhaps it was she who paid for some of his parenting sins. Sins I believe he made unconsciously but made nonetheless.

 

MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM'S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN - REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN
MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM’S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN – REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN

 

I have to say once you get through the impressive first 40 minutes, The Look of Love becomes a disappointingly crude and shallow biography of this self-made man.  I understand that this was based on a well-regarded biograpyh called MEMBERS ONLY by Paul Willets. But if this is the case it glosses over many of the details and instead focuses a lot on the sex and nakedness side of this story. I just wanted to sink a bit deeper into the lives of these people. If Winterbottom was attempting to capture the hubris, style and cheapness of British sex comedies such as CARRY ON then he succeeded.  Coogan is effortlessly funny, I am positive many of the lines were ad-libbed.  When we do get to interesting territory, as in a quick scene of Raymond reuniting with his estranged son Derry (Liam Boyle), it is all too brief. I would have to read the book to see what treatment the author gave it. Scenes between his estranged son and daughter at a family dinner on the eve of her wedding are also glossed over.

 

MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM'S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN - REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN
MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM’S THE LOOK OF LOVE STARRING STEVE COOGAN – REVIEWED ON SALTY POPCORN

 

All in all a missed opportunity. Even at 1hr 40minI would say the last 20 minutes dragged on and these were perhaps some of the most pivotal for character examination. Paul Raymond a broken man after losing his closest companion, his daughter, becomes a virtual recluse. For me it seems that the actors are battling valiantly to try to find true meat in the script and are reallyeking out as much as possible. The movie has wit and charm but misses many an opportunity for true observation and isn’t that the role of any biopic?

3 pops for some fine acting performances. Mostly Coogan.

 

3 Pops