What do you get if you cross soft-porn, Alan Partridge and drug biopic Requiem for a Dream? The answer is The Look of Love, a film which charts the life of Paul Raymond, one of the adult entertainment industry’s most prominent figures in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
The film, directed by Michael Winterbottom, centres on Raymond’s (Coogan) relationship with his daughter (Imogen Poots) and covers the former’s rise to the title of the “King of Soho”, and the latter’s spiralling drug addiction. We get an uncensored look at Raymond’s nepotism, infidelity and own drug problems. In a similar fashion to Winterbottom’s other works (like sexually explicit 9 Songs) it’s unashamedly in your face. As Alan Partridge once said, there’s some “classic intercourse”.
The cast turn in some strong performances, as both Poots and Coogan more than convince as their real life counterparts. Poots is heartbreaking as a spoilt, but ultimately tragic, character. She will surely be one to watch in the next few years. If it was between Coogan in this and the stars of TOWIE as keynote speakers at the 2013 IEEE Nuclear Science Symposium, Coogan would prove to be furthest out of his comfort zone. Coogan took the role to distance himself from his infamous alter ego. However, there is still a whiff of the Partridge. Like gravity and the UK’s final Eurovision position, some things will never change.
The supporting cast are great, with particular plaudits going to Anna Friel as Raymond’s eventually estranged wife, who endures her husband’s indiscretions for too long. Be prepared though, as there are some particularly distracting cameo appearances, with half the cast of Mock The Week, all of Little Britain and an Inbetweener cropping up. Much chatter was made amongst the audience during the reveal of a few famous faces.
Winterbottom wants the film to present the seedy, less glamorous side of 60s and 70s London, complete with coke parties, orgies and strip joints. Austin Powers, this is not. For the most part he succeeds. We are confronted with a Soho which quite believably is the cradle of smut. The guise is finished with lashings of questionable facial hair, inexplicable interior decorating and a fashion sense that is quite simply the reason for the 18 Rated Certificate. Spoiler alert: in keeping with the time period and feel of the film, we also see some of the wildest, most untamed lady hair to ever grace the screen.
The film is entertaining and enlightening and certainly deserves a view for the performances alone, but this one does not necessarily need to be seen on the big screen (it’s a Film4 production so expect to see this on the TV within a couple of months). This will be better viewed at home amongst friends where, if any questions or comments of disbelief are raised about famous faces and wild pubic hair, it can be paused, sniggered at and rewound if necessary. Lets not disturb the paying audience.
For those of you still on the fence, there are just four words: Alan Partridge gets naked. Make of that what you will.