Director Michael Winterbottom and comedian Steve Coogan return for their latest collaborative effort, 'The Look Of Love', a biopic of the life of Paul Raymond, once the richest man in Britain - built on a hefty property portfolio and scantily clad women. Coogan stars as the entrepreneurial and philandering Raymond, playing the role with an inescapable element of arguably his most famous character, Alan Partridge.
'The Look Of Love' is framed from the perspective of Raymond in his later years reflecting on his life, following the death of a loved one. While it takes certain liberties with the truth, Winterbottom captures Raymond's veil of sophistication giving way to a sense of seediness as his operations expand to include Britain's first strip club and a pornographic publication.
Amid Raymond's business dealings is his curious personal life, which perhaps does not receive the depth it deserves, glossing over many of his relationships. The one relationship that is explored more deeply is Raymond's treatment of his daughter (Imogen Poots), and her resulting loss of innocence. Yet even here, too much is left unsaid and unclear.
There are moments that recall finer Winterbottom-Coogan offerings, perhaps most notably in Raymond's impressions, which recollect Coogan's efforts in the enjoyable BBC TV series 'The Trip'. Much like his character in that series, Coogan manages to exude charm and revulsion at will, supported by an occasionally feisty Anna Friel as his spurned wife, and the luminous Tamsin Egerton as his mistress. Unfortunately, Matt Greenlagh's script is more concerned with the occasional flash of wit than character development.
The film revels in its evolving period setting, perhaps its greatest success, thanks to the consistently impressive production and costume design. Away from the playfulness and charm of 'The Full Monty' but equally distant from the squalor and desperation of 'Showgirls', 'The Look Of Love' lacks a drama and emotion to leave a lasting impression. Expect "arbitrary displays of naked flesh" and not a great deal more.
'The Look Of Love' is out in UK cinemas now through Optimum Releasing. The film premiered in the UK at the 2013 Sundance London festival.