Sundance Film Festival review: The Look of Love - Steve Coogan plays a porn baron but this film feels like an interminably dull orgy

3.00

Michael Winterbottom's biopic about 'King of Soho' Paul Raymond reunites him with the Alan Patridge star - but despite Coogan's  porn-appropriate moustache, he doesn't fit the bill

According to Michael Winterbottom’s The Look of Love, porn emperor Paul Raymond’s naked Soho revues really take off in the 60s when the Daily Express thunders against the amount of naked female flesh on display. The show sells out immediately.

Winterbottom will hope British sensibilities haven’t changed that much, because this film has mounds of flesh in it – almost entirely female, and a lot of it cupped in the hands of Steve Coogan, who plays Raymond. It’s to be expected in a biopic of ‘The King of Soho’, who in 1992 became Britain’s richest man off the back of the sex industry he built up, but after a while it starts to feel like an interminably dull orgy.

That may be the impression the director wants to convey – how Raymond discarded one wife for a mistress, and lost her because he couldn’t cope with anything less than three in a bed – only to end up padding around alone in a faux 007, leopard-print penthouse, decorated, Raymond informs us a few times, by Ringo Starr.

However, Raymond is no Larry Flynt, and Coogan, despite his handlebar, porn-appropriate moustache, doesn’t  fill the screen. At various points, it is Alan Partridge getting luckier than he ever dreamed of with the ladies.  No clue is given as to how a boy “ off the boat in Liverpool with five bob in his pocket” (another favourite Paul Raymond saying)  had the drive to acquire an estimated fortune of 650 million pounds; beyond him noting, that in his first career as a fraudulent stage-show mindreader, he realised his act was received better with a naked girl in tow. “ And that, “ he concludes with a wink, “ is the only time I ever read a mind accurately.”

The girls, however fare better, with Anna Friel giving a feisty spark to Raymond’s first wife, while Tamsin Egerton upgrades effortlessly from St Trinian’s posh totty to his long-term lover, Fiona Richmond.

Imogen Poots plays Debbie, Paul Raymond’s daughter, and the designated heir to his empire until her death from heroin in 1992. Their relationship is  the heart of the film – how a man could acquire millions but his beloved daughter slipped through his fingers, leaving him devastated until his death in 2008. But by the time Debbie is gone, so is the audience emotion, deadened by all the threesomes and drug abuse.

With cameos from David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry and an Inbetweener, it has the air of a scheme cooked up between mates in a Soho bar – and this is where the film excels, showing the heart of London through the decades, in all its sexy, seedy glory. It has heart – and that is where The Look of Love falls short. Just like the business that gave Raymond his millions, it somehow lacks soul.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas