The Look of Love ★★★

Bits, boobs and bushes. These feature A LOT in Michael Winterbottom’s ‘The Look of Love’.

Anna Friel, Steve Coogan and Tamsin Egerton pose for photos at the premiere in Soho. Image © of Hollie Borland

Anna Friel, Steve Coogan and Tamsin Egerton pose for photos at the premiere in Soho. Image © of Hollie Borland

The film follows the life of the King of Soho, Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan), during his years as a strip club proprietor in London’s red-light district. Winterbottom’s latest project explores the development of Raymond’s strip clubs and pornographic empire. It begins in black and white 1958, where the law states that the girls could pose naked on stage but they must remain still, right up until the early 90’s where a certain seedy dominatrix feel takes over the classic beauty of the glamour models.

His story is focused on the three most important women in his life – his wife Jean Raymond (Anna Friel), his lover (Tamsin Egerton) and his beloved daughter, Debbie Raymond (Imogen Pooting). Told in a flashback style, Raymond reflects on the sex, drugs and lavish lifestyle that led up to the death of his daughter.

At the UK premiere in Soho (15.04.2013), Friel told me about how she had to pose naked on screen whilst reenacting a photo shoot her character took part in for Raymond’s pornographic magazine, Men Only.

“I remember when I was posing, I thought wouldn’t it be funny if all the men had to get undressed! But that didn’t happen. If all of the men had to get naked, that would be fabulous,” said Friel.

Anna wore a mustard yellow vintage dress whilst posing next to her co-stars Steve Coogan, 47, and Tamsin Egerton, 24, who play Paul Raymond and his lover, Fiona Richmond.

When I asked Coogan if he could imagine his daughter taking him out to party like Debbie does for Raymond, he replied, “that’s not going to happen!”

The film features a number of celebrity cameos, including Dara Ó Briain, Stephen Fry, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, and Simon Bird.

Needless to say there is nudity. Egerton (St. Trinians) is naked, Friel is naked, Coogan is naked, lots of girls are naked – threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes. Not only do you see the development of porn over a couple of decades, but you also witness the changing fashion of pubic hair, from something quite full and impressive (or offensive depending on how you look at it) in the 50s and 60s, right through to nothing.  This film is definitely not for the prude! 3/5

Dara  Ó Briain, Chris Addison and Steve Coogan at the premiere of The Look of Love. Images  © of Hollie Borland

Dara Ó Briain, Chris Addison and Steve Coogan at the premiere of The Look of Love. Images © of Hollie Borland

The Look of Love is out in UK cinemas on 26th April 2013.

Fifty Shades of Monotone

The ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy by E L James is what everyone has been talking/tweeting/banging on about. The first book, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has sold over 534,000 copies and has been claimed to have improved sex lives and even ‘saved marriages’. But does it live up to the hype? I think not.

The 'Fifty Shades' trilogy

The ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy by British novelist, E L James, appears to be the nation’s desire

The ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trilogy is an erotic novel told through the mouth of Anastasia Rose Steele, a virgin, as she falls madly in love with multi-billionaire, Christian Grey. There is just one kink in her knight’s metallic armour: his need for sexual domination.

When Ana is first propositioned by the gorgeous CEO, admittedly, the thought of having to sign a contract in order for him to fulfil her sexual desire is, as Ana would put it herself, ‘hot’.  Finding out Grey’s dirty sexual secret is enticing. Why doesn’t he like being touched? And visiting the ’Red Room of Pain’ makes you squirm with awkwardness and horror. But you can’t stop until you find out. Reading the words James dared to put on paper feels wrong, embarrassing, naughty… yet intriguing and compelling. Ana even shatters ‘into a thousand pieces’ during her first sexual encounter, vanilla style (sex without any ‘kinky fuckery’). Nicely done Mr Grey.

However, the storyline swiftly becomes a sex diary. That is all they do. Sex. All the time. On the piano, on the billiard table, in bed, in the elevators, in the Red Room of Pain, in public… Sex and orgasms. All the time. The plot hardly thickens. Even when Ana leaves Christian, you have no doubt the couple will rekindle their love.

Sure enough, book two, ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ sees an almost immediate reconciliation. Barely four days have passed and they are back together. Screwing each other. Christian continues to have no limits to the amounts of money he spends. Oh sorry, I must give credit to the slight change. The book is now littered with “I love you”. There is a vague plot dipping in and out of another sexual drama about Ana being sexually harassed by her boss, Jack Hyde… but there is very little excitement there. Christian uses his money to save Ana, the have make up sex blah blah blah.

Development of the storyline appears in book three, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’, where Ana marries Christian. “Husband”, “wife”, “Mr Grey”, “Mrs Grey” now make up a large number of the literature. It’s sappy, dull and unrealistic.

Quite frankly, the whole story line that stretches across the three books is grey. The lack of realism is a real let down. Initially Ana is faced with a challenge: the love of her life is “fifty shades of fucked up”, he likes bondage, he doesn’t like being touched, he doesn’t know how to love.  However, Ana gets the gorgeous hunk, gets the money, gets her dream job, orgasms during every sexual encounter (which is more like fifty times a day and less like fifty shades of grey) and her happily ever after is practically given to her with no real struggle or threat.

However, what is alarming is the popularity of a story, which depicts an older man seducing a younger woman with violence and money.

Unfortunately, the trilogy feels like teen-fiction with an overload of graphic sex and no real adventure. The storyline is monotonous, metallic and greatly lacking in colour. After all, no matter what shade, grey is grey. Lets hope the movie

doesn’t disappoint as much as the books.  3 out of 10.