The porn and property tycoon Paul Raymond started his career as a mind reader, but soon recognised the commercial value of sex and built an empire encompassing gentleman’s clubs, porn magazines and property. Raymond lived a life of celebrated excess, relishing his notoriety as the self-styled ‘King of Soho’ and rarely out of the tabloids, but the one thing he couldn’t control was his daughter Deborah, a troubled soul who became the editor of his porn magazine empire, before succumbing to drug addiction.
Beautifully shot, and moving between glorious black and white and colour – Winterbottom’s latest film careers around the Soho of the 1970s. Aided by a screenplay from Matt Greenhalgh (Control), Winterbottom fashions a dazzling portrait of a mercurial, charismatic businessman whose Icaruslike rise has complications he can’t forsee. Steve Coogan is stunning as Raymond and should finally receive awards recognition for his portrait of this sad clown; Anna Friel as wife Jean and Imogen Poots as his daughter Deborah are both excellent, and the film offers a wealth of unexpected treats with cameos from familiar faces including David Walliams, Stephen Fry and Dara O’Briain.
Winterbottom is a modern day Howard Hawks; a film-maker always challenging what cinema can do, and whose films roam across genres and subjects with equal passion. As audiences we are lucky to enjoy his curiosity and The Look of Love is a fascinating addition to his oeuvre.
Gráinne Humphreys, Jameson Dublin International Film Festival