movie film review | chris tookey

Look of Love

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  Look of Love Review
Tookey's Rating
1 /10
Average Rating
5.85 /10
Steve Coogan (pictured), Anna Friel, Tamsin Egerton
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Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
Written by: Matt Greenhalgh

Released: 2013
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: UK
Colour: C
Length: 101

A wilfully myopic biopic.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Director Michael Winterbottom has achieved the impossible; he has made a biopic of Paul Raymond, Britainís most colourful porn baron, thatís unobservant, unerotic and dull.

The flashback structure resembles Citizen Kane, but little else does. Thereís no technical virtuosity here and, worse, no insight. Itís neither comedy nor tragedy: a flat, superficial film thatís a huge wasted opportunity.

Steve Cooganís shallow performance as the Clacton pier mind-reader turned coke-sniffing pornographer is pathetic, but not in the way intended. Itís so flippant and lightweight, it borders on blank.
As in The People Vs Larry Flynt, the growth of a pernicious porn business is portrayed as cheeky, harmless entrepreneurialism, a valuable form of libertarianism.

In the film, Raymondís magazine empire consists of just one periodical, Men Only. In reality, his seven porn magazines constituted half the British market. One of these, Escort, ran advertisements for a paedophile who offered ďschoolgirl photosĒ through a box number and sold hundreds of photographs of children in sexual poses. Articles in Raymondís magazines condoned rape and being a peeping tom.

If youíre looking for any clue that pornography might degrade women or menace children, or that Raymondís property empire Ė which made him Britainís richest man - was based on buying up buildings vacated by residents repelled by the degeneration of Soho and Shepherdís Market that he helped bring about, youíll look in vain.

Nor is there any attempt to provide a social context. According to this film, Raymond was a roguish one-off. In reality, he had to fight off numerous competitors, including attempts by the IRA and Maltese gangsters to muscle in on his profits. He also bribed the police on an industrial scale. These interesting, socially significant and potentially dramatic areas are simply ignored.

The one tragic dimension is provided by Imogen Poots, who struggles with an underwritten role as Debbie Raymond, Paulís daughter, who was over-indulged by her father and descended into alcohol and cocaine addiction that killed her at the age of 36. But Winterbottom remains so cool about her that little human sympathy comes through.

Mr Coogan promised before the film came out that it would avoid ďDaily MailĒ judgmentalism. It certainly does. And thatís partly why itís a turkey. Itís not just judgmentalism it lacks, itís judgment.
Biopics donít come more heartless or dishonest than this.

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