A biographical portrait of Paul Raymond, one time richest man in Britain and head of soft pornography giant ‘Men Only’ magazine, along with many infamous Soho establishments, convincingly played here by Steve Coogan. The film really focuses on his relationship with his daughter, played by Imogen Poots, but it tries to squeeze in all of the other women in his life as well; his wife, long term girlfriends, threesomes, and general one night stands. A lot of these elements take up the first half of the movie, and are given too brief a treatment to be effective, and indeed the cutting and editing is far too rapid here generally. This may be to do with the content, as we see an endless stream of bare breasted girls parade up and down the stages of his London attractions, at once containing enough nudity to offend and off-put some viewers, and yet cut far too sharply to be used for any effect other than to show Raymond was constantly around attractive young women.
It’s like the film is playing it safe, commenting on the infamously conservative British relationship with sex and pornography in general (see this article, for talk of the current government banning all porn in the UK) and talking of its evolution in history, and yet also suffering from that same slightly repressive culture – accentuated with sex scenes that are shot in a traditionally prudish way, especially with regards to male nudity onscreen. There’s really nothing here to offend or, ‘ahem’, titillate your average audience member. There is a lot of cocaine use throughout though, especially with Poots’ character, in fact we are to believe she essentially takes the stuff with her Cornflakes for several years, and yet she continues to still look pretty good, which is perhaps a bit of a visual oversight.
Despite its flaws and a dull first half, ultimately the slow burn effect begins to work, and together with the music and feel of the era it evokes, it does build to a reasonably memorable emotional end. Admittedly, having a slight crush on Imogen Poots probably helps (also, see her surprisingly accomplished Scottish accent in ‘Centurion’). It’s directed by the man who effectively brought Coogan to an international audience with ‘24 Hour Party People’, Michael Winterbottom, and marks the latest of a long running collaboration between the two, after further films like ‘The Trip’ and ‘A Cock and Bull Story’. Also with good turns from Anna Friel, Chris Addison (‘The Thick of it’) and Tamsin Egerton (‘St. Trinians’, ‘4..3..2..1’) and features a brief but pretty good Marlon Brando impression from Coogan too (he began his career onscreen as an impressionist for ‘Spitting Image’ in the eighties).
Speaking of which, here are some equally good impersonations from another famously famous thesp.