In cinemas 26th April, The Look of Love is Michael Winterbottom’s fourth collaboration with actor Steve Coogan. The biopic documents the life Paul Raymond, the West End’s very own King Midas and self-made millionaire, credited for transforming the dingy backstreets of Soho into the opulently seedy streets we know today. The film mixes hilarity, outrageousness and tragedy, reflective of Raymond’s intricate and fascinating life. Here is a run down of those famous Winterbottom-Coogan collaborations:
24 Hour Party People (2002)
Perhaps the pair’s best-known pairing, 24 Hour Party People documents Manchester, it’s music and it’s madness – from the arrival of the Sex Pistols to the death of the Hacienda nightclub. Winterbottom retells the rise and fall of this legendary era through Tony Wilson (played by Coogan) charting his transformation from mild-mannered news reporter for Granada TV, to high-powered Manchester music mogul and head of classic Brit music label, Factory records. The film is interspersed with real life gig footage, and is based on a mixture of real-life and imagined events, music industry rumours and urban legend. It is still credited as being one of the best music themed films of all time.
A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
This is Winterbottom’s ‘almost-adaptation’ of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. Whilst the book documents a man’s inability to write a novel, the film mirrors this through mapping the film crew’s inability to make a film. Steve Coogan plays Tristram, an egotistical actor with a squirm-inducing tendency to constantly reference himself and his reputation in ‘behind-the-scenes’ pieces. Cripplingly self aware, Coogan gives a cringe worthy performance which highlights the egotistic nature of entertainment – the rivalry between himself and Rob Brydon is particularly hilarious.
The Trip (2012)
Winterbottom reunited with Coogan and Brydon again in an improvised six-episode comedy series filmed in the Lake District. Coogan plays a dissatisfied actor, who, in order to impress his girlfriend, agrees to write a series of restaurant reviews for the Observer, embarking upon a tour of Northern England’s culinary offering. Each subsequent episode takes place over a gourmet meal, throughout which the two constantly bicker and attempt to undermine and outdo each other, especially in the presence of any attractive women they may encounter. The programme saw Coogan win the award for Best Male Comedy Performance at the 2011 BAFTAs.
The Look of Love (2013)
Coogan plays Paul Raymond, the Soho porn publisher, millionaire property magnet and entrepreneur. The biopic documents the ups and downs of Raymonds’ fascinating life – charting iconic moments which include having his girlfriend, Fiona, ride through Soho on a white horse and the opening of the first London strip cub, through to the tragic death of his daughter and latter years. The Look of Love is a vibrant explosion of sequins, glamour and seediness set in swinging London’s heyday, but pulling back the velvet curtain to reveal the story of the man behind it all.