The Look of Love
This British biopic was a nice break from all the summer blockbusters.
First off, it was English so instantly more risque in its portrayal of women, sex, drugs and other things that would brand a movie with a censor in the US.
It follows the life of one of the richest men in the UK, Paul Raymond, who not only challenged the barriers of porn but who could be considered the English Hugh Hefner. The film follows him after he is an established business man with a more versatile kind of strip club. We're given a look into his personal life with the deterioration of his marriage and string of lovers while also showing his softer side through his relationship with his daughter.
The Look of Love is not any new kind of narrative, especially since it was based off a true story but it blends humor and drama well whilst playing with the viewers emotions. One second he is spited the next we empathize with him. Raymond, played brilliantly by Steve Coogan, is how we would expect the owner of strip clubs and dirty magazines would be. While he flirts with his employees, instead of being angered due to the knowledge of his wife, we are intrigued. The fact that his wife, Jean played by the equally believable Anna Friel, is included with one of his earliest (mostly) nudist acts puts the thought in our head that perhaps she deserved or at least expected it. That is solidified by the way Jean almost emotionally talks to Raymond about his time with the girls when he commonly arrives home late.
When Raymond leaves his wife, it is to be expected. Perhaps it has become almost a thing of acceptance in this kind of scenario. Of course it is upsetting since he is leaving his children for his own selfish desires but with the increase of these drama films about the playboy the emotions that should be there are overlapped with an almost passive belief. In fact as soon as Tamsin Egerton's character Amber (or as referred to at a later stage as Fiona Richmond) is introduced, the entire scenario flashed in my head. Not only was she made to stand out among the other women but she represented 'the chase' for Raymond. Egerton's character was interesting because despite her appearance and occupation she was not the vapid, gold-digging woman one would expect. Although she did start there she was presented in a way that set herself up as bait for Raymond and used him for publicity. Despite sounding stereotypical, her character developed while Raymond's spiraled. Richmond grew into a businesswoman while Raymond seemed to be reliving his early 20's.
But what was most shocking yet fascinating was the relationship between Raymond and his daughter Debbie (played by Imogen Poots). His daughters rebellious side is somewhat thrown at us when she is briefly introduced then when meeting her again she has been thrown out of her high school. It appears that she is close to her father, choosing to stay with him once her parents separated. But like many children of famous people, she fights for his attentions. Much like her mother, she volunteers to be in one of his erotica productions, a musical of sorts. Raymond casts her as the lead singer in a play that is highly ridiculed. This appears to mark the start of her downward spiral. Next thing we know shes getting married to some random man and is pregnant. All seems well, but drugs are thrown at us and clearly at her. Poots portrayal is not to the extent of heart-wrenching but it certainly is believable. As she snorts the coke one can only feel sorry for her as she watches her father overlook her for the sights of other women.
Overall, this film is not the next big thing, but it is a fun and interesting biopic about the British Hugh Hefner and for a time, the richest man in Britain. Director Michael Winterbottom portrays a colorful yet at times dark film about a man who is questionably respected. The screenplay, written by Matt Greenhalgh opens us to this forbidden world and gives insight into a man with his many troubled relationships. Unlike other biopics, The Look of Love doesn't focus on simply the risque parts that may be what many expected when watching the life of Paul Raymond. It allows a portion of his life to flourish and develop so that the audience can experience the changes with him. Although this would not be a film I am desperate to see in the cinema, it certainly is film I would watch if I wanted to be entertained or wanted to know more
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