‘Look of Love’ Studies the Life of Nude Revue Producer Paul Raymond

Gabriella Tutino

 

“My name’s Paul Raymond; welcome to my world of erotica.”

 

The Look of Love, a biopic by Michael Winterbottom, takes a look at the dazzling, complicated life of Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), the famed London nude revue entrepreneur and his three main relationships with his wife, lover, and daughter.

 

The film plays out into three acts, each characterized by Raymond’s relationships, with the first act focusing on his wife Jean (Anna Friel).  At first a bit of a history lesson that plays out like a documentary: there are glimpses of his first show, his family life, and his foray into legitimate theater—the beginning of the film shows what kind of man Raymond is-- a risk-taker, driven, cheeky and a bit of a playboy. Up to this point, Jean has been working as the choreographer for the glamour shows. Although married, the relationship between the couple is open, as Jean is aware Paul occasionally sleeps with some of the showgirls.

 

The introduction of Fiona (Tamsin Egerton) as Paul’s new lover, of course, becomes the force that ends up with Jean divorcing the entrepreneur. And so he enters the next stage of his life where he makes a new start by founding Men Only magazine, an erotic publication.

 

Here the second and third acts begin to intertwine, as Raymond tries to be present in raising his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots). He sends her to school, puts her in one of his productions, and introduces her to his glamorous lifestyle. But the relationships between Raymond and Fiona and Raymond and Debbie devolve as the man tries to keep his clichéd lifestyle of drugs and sex going along with his business ventures.

 

The Look of Love is a period piece with the swinging 60s as its background, and all the expected cultural notes are there—the free sexual attitudes of the decade, the music, the fashions and cars. It is easy to see how Paul Raymond’s pornographic businesses flourished.

 

And although The Look of Love hits the right notes visually, it doesn’t save the film from being unfocused and lacking depth. The film tries to balance the success of Raymond’s empire with the entrepreneur’s unsuccessful relationships, as well as his touch-and-go moments with his sons and his numerous trysts. It’s an attempt to show the reckless speed at which Raymond lives his unique life, and of the persona he created; yet it fails to create a seamless storyline as the film constantly jumps back and forth between scenes.

 

While the film moves along quickly and is entertaining, there are few moments that elicit an emotional response. Paul Raymond is a man who keeps losing the most important people in his life, yet—until the end—we see a man who is stoic and unfeeling. Even as Raymond cries over the death of Debbie, it is hard to find any sympathy for someone who spent his life repeatedly putting more importance on the superficial.

 

The biopic is worth a look if only to get a sense of the man behind the British nude revue business.

 

Author Bio:
Gabrielle Tutino is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.

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