Plot: Welcome to the scandalous world of Paul Raymond, entrepreneur,
impresario, and the “king of Soho.” Seeing mediocrity in the smutty sex
parlors of London, Raymond unveils his first “gentlemen’s club” in 1958
and gradually builds an empire of clubs and erotic magazines that brings
him vast wealth while affronting British sexual mores. It also brings a litany of obscenity charges, a failed marriage, troubled children, and personal tragedy.
My rating: 7.5/10
Will I watch it again? Yes.
I've loved everything Steve Coogan's done for years now. Apparently this is his first dramatic leading role. He's good. He's also Steve Coogan and he interjects Steve Coogan into the role by doing Sean Connery impressions and such. I could have done without that but it didn't ruin the picture for me.
Surprisingly there's not much tension. Paul Raymond (Coogan) had some turmoil with his personal relationships from his wife and mistress to his drug addict daughter but it never seemed dramatically devastating or anything. While there is a story here, it's essentially Raymond looking back at key moments of his rise to fame & fortune and all the good and bad in between, so it's OK that it's a series of vignettes and not a traditional narrative. I enjoyed it - quite a lot, actually.
One scene that stands out is when Paul meets with his barely adult son that he's never met but has been paying the mother weekly until his 18th birthday (at least he showed a little responsibility, right?). It's a pleasant, albeit obligatory, meeting where all the son wants is to spend some quality time with the father he's never met and Paul just wants to politely get it over with.
The picture looks great and they nailed the look and feel of the 60s and 70s (not that I was there, mind you, but my sole experiences are from seeing films of that era). Some shots looked like they were lifted from some 60s movies. Early on I was getting some John Barry vibes from Antony Genn's & Mark Slattery's score. Nice. I wasn't bored for a moment. After the world premiere here at the Sundance Film Festival, the directed a few members of the cast came on stage for a Q&A. The bad news is Coogan wasn't able to make it. The good news is it's because he was two days from principal photography on the Alan Partridge movie. I'm oozing with excitement and anticipation. I hope the DVD release of LOOK will be loaded with extras because I'd like to see more. In the meantime I'm going to check out Winterbottom's catalog.