Michael Winterbottom brings a breezy touch to The Look of Love, a biopic of London’s notorious nudie-club mogul Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), whose Raymond Revue Bar and Men Only smut mag helped make him, by 2008, Britain’s richest man. Unfortunately, Winterbottom only lightly enlivens what turns out to be a rote tale of a man who achieves his libertine dreams and, in the process, loses that which he holds most dear—in this case, his daughter, Debbie (Imogen Poots), whose tragic death looms over the told-in-flashback proceedings. An entrepreneur whose triumph was realizing that, no matter the era, men would pay handsomely to see unclothed women, Raymond is embodied by Coogan as a wife-abandoning playboy tycoon whose carnal appetites were matched by his ego—in an amusing recurring bit of braggadocio, he crows about having had his penthouse lair decorated by Ringo Starr. Coogan’s portrayal is heartfelt, but The Look of Love rarely exploits its star’s comedic dexterity. And the material eventually amounts to just a consequences-of-fame Behind the Music cautionary tale in which the lesson is that if your life revolves around coke-fueled orgies, it’s best to leave your kids out of it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 3, 2013