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20 Aug 2013

Home Video Review: This Well-Acted Biopic About British Mogul Paul Raymond Merely Scratches the Surface

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Steve Coogan in The Look of Love. Steve Coogan in The Look of Love.

In The Look of Love, Steve Coogan reunites with his frequent director Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People) to tell the true story of Paul Raymond, Britain’s version of Hugh Hefner, who became one of Britain’s richest men before his death in 2008.

I knew nothing of this man before watching the film—which seems strange, considering he was so huge in England. He opened England’s first strip club, and followed that with soft-porn magazines and real-estate properties until he amassed a huge fortune.

Coogan plays Raymond as a likable-enough sort—even though he had a wandering eye and a lack of commitment when it came to relationships. Anna Friel (Land of the Lost) plays Jean, Raymond’s long-suffering wife, who had no problem with his dalliances—until he actually picks up and leaves. Imogen Poots is memorable as Debbie, Raymond’s daughter and the reason he became reclusive after her death from a drug overdose in 1992.

Winterbottom captures the essence of the ’60s and ’70s just fine, and Coogan is rather enjoyable as Raymond. Perhaps that’s one of the problems with the film: It seems like Raymond must’ve been a much lousier person than this film portrays him to be.

The Look of Love is a good-looking movie with great acting performances, but it just scratches the surface.

The film is available on demand and online via sources, including iTunes and Amazon.com.

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