Showing posts with label Michael Winterbottom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michael Winterbottom. Show all posts

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Look of Love

The Look of Love is a 2013 biopic of Paul Raymond, a self made man dubbed ‘The King of Soho’ thanks to his enormous property empire which included numerous clubs, bars, strip clubs and theatres. Branching out later to pornographic magazines he became Britain’s wealthiest man in 1992 with an estimated worth of £650 million. The film takes us back to his beginnings as a small time entertainer who hit upon the idea of a private gentlemen’s club in which naked women would appear in live shows, something that was previously banned in the UK. From here the movie charts his rise, reaching the dizzy heights of drug addled fame before crashing down to personal disaster.

Behind the camera is Michael Winterbottom, a man capable of producing excellent work (24 Hour Party People, Trishna, The Trip) while his frequent collaborator Steve Coogan takes on the role of Raymond. The film features some delicious period detail and more naked women than you could shake a stick at so why did I find it all so dull?

Despite the lavish interior sets and attention to detail in costume and hair (both collar and cuffs), the film never grabbed me. I was extremely bored throughout and never really cared about any of the characters. Paul Raymond is a smooth talking self publicist who spends the film going from one gorgeous woman to another while his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) is portrayed as a spoiled, talentless daddy’s girl. Neither are particularly fun to be around and despite Coogan injecting a bit of humour into Raymond, I never missed them when they weren’t on screen. Raymond’s life was either not interesting or the film made it feel so. Considering he was a philandering, multi millionaire who owned Soho, I fear it’s the latter.  

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Trisha is a modern take on Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles set in India and starring Riz Ahmed (Four Lions) and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire). Trishna (Pinto) is the eldest daughter in a large rural family who has to work in order to help support her family. Jay (Ahmed) is the son of a rich businessman who was bought up in England and is on a tour of India with friends. At a chance meeting there is chemistry between the couple but their different backgrounds and social taboos make a romance impossible. After Trishna’s father is severely injured in an accident, Trishna is forced to take on more work and is offered a well paid job at Jay’s father’s hotel in Jaipur. After taking up the job a romance begins which is played out in Jiapur and Mumbai. The relationship is strained by Trishna’s feelings of being torn by her duty and traditions of her family and the opportunities her meeting with Jay has provided for her. Jay meanwhile increasingly exploits Trishna for his own gratification and their relationship is further strained with dramatic consequences.

The film’s setting is truly beautiful. This is the second film I’ve watched this week set in a Jiapur hotel (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and I’d happily watch another two. The scenery and cityscape is that beautiful. The film also features beautiful music and dancing and in my mind the worlds most beautiful actress, Freida Pinto. The film successfully transports the social themes that are present in Hardy’s novel to modern day Rajasthan as many of the themes of class, sexual taboo, exploitation and a deep gap between rich and poor are still common place in 21st Century India. The film has a good stab and at least looking at some of those themes and its two characters’ are well written to deal with them.

Riz Ahmed, perhaps most famous for his role in Four Lions but who I first discovered as a rapper (Video Here) is excellent. He is believable as the rich English-Indian in the first two acts but his gradual transformation to something more sinister is even more successful. He does it very subtly while the audience are still rooting for him. Freida Pinto is even better. This is definitely her film. She is thoroughly convincing as a poor Indian villager who is wowed by the trappings of Western riches and manages to maintain her shy victim like persona even when she isn’t. The hurt she shows towards the end of the film is felt by the whole audience and her last few scenes are shocking but she pulls it off well. Her only downfall unfortunately is her looks. When sat in a peasant house is rural Rajasthan she does stick out a bit, but you can’t really hold that against her.


The film is a successful translation of a popular and frequently adapted literary source. Both actors are great and you feel like their relationship is real and not just on screen. The film looks beautiful and manages to get across both modern and traditional India’s successes and failures. I really enjoyed it.