The Look of Love – Film Review

The Look of Love

A few weeks ago I navigated the urban maze of Soho in London to reach the Soho Screening Rooms and watch The Look of Love. The film opens on Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan) driving in a car with his granddaughter through the urban maze of Soho in London. As they drive Raymond points out the various properties he owns and explains that he bought them all for his daughter, Debbie (Imogen Poots), who has recently died from a drug overdose. Raymond then sits down to watch an old interview featuring his daughter and himself as we flashback to the start of his career…

Paul Raymond was once Britain’s richest man, his money coming from the aforementioned properties and a lucrative history in strip clubs, sex comedies, and what some would call pornographic magazines. In The Look of Love we follow Raymond’s career as he profits from displays of flesh in numerous forms, end his adulterous marriage with Jean Raymond (Anna Friel) and takes up with showgirl Amber (Tamsin Egerton) to indulge in a life of sex, drugs, and an apartment designed by Ringo Starr.

The Look of Love - Addison, Poots, & Coogan

The Look of Love has been blessed with an amazing cast largely filled with comic actors in not so comic roles. Steve Coogan nearly completely banishes Alan Partridge from your mind as he is transformed into a blonde Lothario and Chris Addison’s performance as the drug happy editor Tony Power is worth the ticket price alone. Other smaller roles are filled by the likes of Miles Jupp, Sarah Solemani, David Walliams, Simon Bird, Matt Lucas, and Stephen Fry. Heck we even get the marvellous James Lance who is never in enough films. Tamsin Egerton makes the most of her first proper leading role and is more ballsy than brave as she plays the character most often seen unclothed and with the most depth.

Director Michael Winterbottom is not one to shy away from onscreen nudity and sure enough we are presented with a plethora of scantily clad young women on stage, in swimming pools, and cavorting in Raymond’s bedroom which features sun lamps and a retractable roof. The nudity is not presented in an overly exploitative manner but is simply present in as great a quantity as it was in Raymond’s real life. For a film filled with sex and nudity there isn’t too much to titillate here for better or worse. With some exceptions perhaps…

The Look of Love - Tamsin Egerton

That said there isn’t a huge deal of depth to be found either. Events from Raymond’s life are paraded in front of us with unquestionably fine acting and direction but somehow the essence of the man escapes us. The film is solidly made; if you kick it, it won’t fall down, but look inside and it is mostly empty. By the end of the film I knew a lot about what Raymond had done but had no insight into why he had done it. Why did he love Amber above all the other women who passed through his bed? Why did he love his daughter so much yet dismiss his sons? Why did Jean put up with his philandering? The Look of Love is an enjoyable film and provides the winning combination of a perfect cast and all that nudity but it doesn’t uncover anything revealing about Paul Raymond as a character.

For a film about a man who pushed the boundaries in his time there are surprisingly few boundaries pushed onscreen. And this is from the director that brought graphic sex to the multiplex. There were moments where I could feel Winterbottom censoring himself as he shied away from fully exploiting the world of Paul Raymond. The last thing this film needed was tasteful nudity. While it is ostensibly a good thing to not exploit sex and nudity this is a film about “The King of Soho” at the end of the day and I only needed to walk for 2 minutes from the screening room to see the neon clad impact of his life, something the film failed to capture.

A film worth seeing but probably just the once, The Look of Love is in UK cinemas on 26th April 2013.

Alice in Wonderland – Review

Yes this is a little late but Mild Concern doesn’t have the benefit of press screenings and as Alice is still top of the UK box office this is still relevant, totally. I’m afraid what follows is another positive review, damn my good viewing judgement!

I chose to see the film in 2D so I could focus on the film without weird, slightly off images and tired eyes and I’m glad I did. Tim Burton is well known for his stunning and unique visuals and Alice does not disappoint, the beautiful imagery did not need 3D to make it sumptuous and entrancing. Such a good looking film requires big words.

Admittedly I was worried at the start as the “real world” was suitably dull and shot in standard fashion, all the better for highlight the wonders of so called Underland. It turns out Alice was mistaken about the name in her previous visit and this is her second time down under. Alice does feature quite a few familiar events but the story quickly veers off from the classic Disney plot to have Alice destined to destroy the Jabberwock giving a more satisfying conclusion to her time in Underland.

Mia Wasikowska does an admirable job carrying this film from start to finish though in her scenes at the very start and finish she seems to put all her effort into the accent rather than the acting. Johnny Depp is as good as expected portraying a truly disturbed hatter, though it was odd to hear him share scenes with Barbara Windsor’s Dormouse.

Other performance highlights included Matt Lucas’ charming Tweedledee and Tweedledum and Stephen Fry’s purring Cheshire Cat. Anne Hathaway continues her journey towards being an actress I actually like, though black lipstick on her huge lips is a bit horrifying. It’s a real shame that amongst all these great character performances Helena Bonham Carter has chosen to completely steal Miranda Richardson’s performance from Blackadder. it works well but is a little lazy.

Alice is a good looking and enjoyable journey and it was a relief to see a fantasy film made by a company that can afford to do it properly after so many Sci-Fi Channel original movies. Real actors were distorted in all sorts of ways and blended seamlessly with the computer generated scenery and charaters. Sadly the film’s destination was a little bit of a let down as after the final showdown it ended with a bit of a whimper.

It is a children’s film after all so not particularly challenging but enjoyable and nice to look at all the same.