The Look of Love Review: Sensational, Whimsical & Lurid But Forgettable

the look of love

rating: 3

Scandal, drugs, sex and champagne are just some of the lavish excesses that feature in The Look of Love; but behind all the glitz one questions whether there is anything there at all behind the surface. The Look of Love marks the fourth collaboration between Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan after the masterpiece 24 Hour Party People and the irreverently meta Cock and Bull Story and The Trip. This new feature is more stylistically related to their debut collaboration but never reaches the highs of the Mad-Chester opus. The Look of Love is an entertaining romp but the talent involved and subject matter begs greatness. It never surpasses mediocrity. Winterbottom assembles a terrific cast and taps into the naughty spirit of Raymond. The audience is along for the ride and is dazzled by the lavish and excess but is left with emptiness much like its complicated hero. The film takes place over essentially four decades. Raymond a former seaside mentalist opens the very first strip club in Britain. Raymond ambitiously sees erotica as something sophisticated and classy and should be marketed as such. Raymond opens more nude clubs and even produces nude theatre (akin to a Carry-On film on stage). Raymond€™s lust and hedonistic lifestyle cause him to leave his wife Jean (Anna Friel) for Fiona Richmond (Tamsin Egerton). His new wife becomes the cover girl for Men Only €“ Britain€™s answer to Playboy. Raymond achieves limitless success and indulges his every vice as the champagne and cocaine keep flowing. Raymond€™s insatiable lifestyle however has dreadful effects on his youngest daughter Debbie (played by Imogen Poots) who descends into a blurry world of excess. the look of love - steve cooganThe Look of Love has the good fortune of being based on a true story and real characters but Winterbottom goes down a very formulaic rise and fall route with the narrative. The film feels like Boogie Nights or Goodfellas set in Soho and, as a result, the movie becomes predictable. The influence of cocaine and the emergence of the 1980€™s in both films (and in this case) spell certain doom for the characters. The plot beats become formulaic and predictable which is disheartening. Winterbottom is a film-maker who has made his career and reputation on being a maverick and being controversial yet there is something very safe about this biopic despite its subject matter. One scene in particular which could easily have been cut without disrupting the flow of the film is where Raymond meets his son Derry from a previous marriage for the first time. He is given a very discourteous and swift tour of Raymond€™s dazzling Soho penthouse and treated to a luxury dinner and casually patted on the back and discarded. This scene perhaps sums up the real man behind the glamorous image. Coogan€™s Raymond is vacuous, materialistic and emotionally shallow. However, Steve Coogan€™s portrayal of Paul Raymond is perhaps the film€™s most underwhelming feature. Coogan, a supremely gifted comedic force here seems like doing an impression of Paul Raymond €“ rather than embodying a character. Much like Coogan€™s performance as Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People there is great emphasis on the cadences of speech of the subject but very little introspection into the men portrayed by the Alan Partridge actor. These performances are very competent impressions but disinteresting in the way of film performances. The jury is still very much out on Coogan€™s dramatic career. the look of love - imogen poots There are great supporting roles from Anna Friel and Tamsin Egerton as Raymond€™s lovers. The Thick of It€™s Chris Addison also gives a wonderful turn as Men Only€™s slimy, Jheri-curled editor. Imogen Poots, however, is the real star of this movie. With roles in A Late Quartet and Filth to come later this year, Poots is going to own 2013. Poots will be the new British movie star. Her embodiment of Debbie Raymond has rage, melancholy, wild rebellion and even rousing musical numbers €“ range Keira Knightley could only dream of. Her performance of Dusty Springfield€™s The Look of Love over the closing credits is the film€™s most lingering and hypnotic moment and will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. Poots rises above the sensationalist script - even giving an honesty to Debbie€™s pleas to her father for a line of cocaine during child labour. Even in raucous scenes like this, Poots gives Debbie the weight and vulnerability that makes her tragic end all the more shattering. Poots efforts aside, The Look of Love coasts along and is entirely entertaining but never shifts into top gear making it utterly dispensable - much like reading a copy of Men Only - sensational, whimsical and lurid - but ultimately forgettable. look of love poster The Look of Love will be released in UK cinemas from April 26th
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Hi. I'm Gearóid (ga-road - it's Irish). I like movies a bit so I write about them. Would you like to know more? Follow my blog mamalukefilm.blogspot.com or don't. It's entirely up to you.