The prospect of Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan hooking up again was tantalising. Criminally underrated mini-series The Trip is up there with Coogan’s best work and 24 Hour Party People… Well, that speaks for itself. It’s a shame, then, that The Look of Love is a tired, messy mish-mash of saucy, Blackpool-postcard softcore pornography, celebrity cameos and rose-tinted melodrama.
Coogan plays the “King of Soho” Paul Raymond, the strip-tease baron whose extravagant life somehow lifted him to the top of the Sunday Times Rich List. There are more than a few parallels with Coogan’s take on Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People. Both take lots of coke, sleep with as many women as they can and have a tendency to directly address the camera. Part of the problem is Raymond is just plain unlikable, even in this glossy version of his life.
That’s not the film’s only failing though. The cultural markers feel lazy: the 60s are all psychedelica, the 80s are heralded by Soft Cell playing on the stereo. It’s all surface – and when things eventually come crashing down for Raymond, it is hard to care.
First published in City A.M.