Michael Winterbottom's The Look of Love is a breezily affectionate if faintly incurious study of Paul Raymond: the Soho nudie-show entrepreneur and property baron who became Britain's richest man.
Dramas about the Soho smut business in its 1960s and 70s heyday tend to look for the dark side, but Winterbottom's movie searches for sympathy in showing Raymond's pitiable, or pitiful relationship with troubled daughter Debbie, played by Imogen Poots, the Cordelia-figure in whom he hoped to entrust his entire porn kingdom.
The sleazily bequiffed Raymond himself is played by Steve Coogan, who inevitably invests the part with Partridgean irony and comedy – or perhaps rather Cooganian irony and comedy, even doing a few impressions of Sean Connery and Marlon Brando.
Coogan always gives a technically accomplished performance, especially when he is playing a version of himself, and as in Winterbottom's The Trip or Cock and Bull Story, his own spiky personality is the performance.
Clearly, Winterbottom did not feel any need to delve too deeply into Raymond's mind or spend much on recreating period detail (the Paramount viewing gallery atop Centre Point did not exist in those days).
This is a shallow but watchable movie, and it nicely conveys the world of semi-respectable Soho porn, sadder and tattier than its sleazier end, with its desperate champagne lunches and dreary afternoon hangovers.
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