The Look of Love

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Look of Love Movie Poster Image
U.K. man builds strip-club empire in tragic, mature biopic.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Main character Paul Raymond seems determined to prove that he can do whatever he wants, sleep with whomever he wants, drink as much as he wants, and take as many drugs as he wants without affecting the people around him. But he learns a hard lesson, because in the end he doesn't manage to pull it off.

Positive Role Models & Representations

None of the people in this film are particularly positive role models; if anything, they seem like a cautionary tale. There's a father/husband who neglects his family and lets his daughter do whatever she wants. The magazine publisher gets girls hooked on drugs, and an estranged wife turns her son against his father. Even the reverend seems to a bit too interested in the nude female performers at a strip club.


Some bitter arguments.


The main character runs an empire of strip clubs and adult magazines, so sexuality runs throughout the entire film. There are naked women in many, many scenes. Often they're performers on stage, topless and sometimes bottomless. Some sequences also show people having sex, in pairs, trios, and more. Moments that don't include nudity are just as likely to have people talking about sex, strip clubs, nude performances, and other types of erotic entertainment.


Some swearing, including "f--king," "queer," and a few British slang terms, such as "bum" and "fanny."


The main character drives a Rolls Royce all around London, where he often brags about his vast real estate holdings. He likes to throw his money around.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes take place at nightclubs and bars, with people drinking champagne, wine, and stronger drinks. Several people also get heavily into drugs, especially cocaine, and viewers often see them snorting from large piles of white powder. One character dies from a drug overdose. Some people smoke cigarettes (accurate for the movie's setting).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Look of Love follows the life of Paul Raymond, who built an empire of strip clubs, erotic revues, and adult magazines in London in the 1960s and '70s, eventually becoming the United Kingdom's richest man. Expect lots of debauchery, including drinking, hard drugs (people are seen snorting cocaine, and there's a tragic overdose), smoking, sex (including threesomes/other combinations), and nudity. Naked women -- both topless and bottomless -- are seen in many, many scenes, either performing on stage or in Raymond's bedroom. There's also some strong language ("f--king," etc.).

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What's the story?

In the 1960s and '70s, Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan) built an empire of London strip clubs, adult magazines, and erotic revues, eventually becoming the United Kingdom's richest man -- a journey that's chronicled in THE LOOK OF LOVE. Along the way, he was determined to live life on his own terms, even if his behavior threatened to break up his family. Frequently unfaithful to his wife and spoiling his daughter terribly, he nonetheless is taken aback by his wife's bitter anger and baffled that his child isn't happy when she has everything she could ever want. (Or so he thinks.) Though kids need more than money and toys, Raymond has a hard time realizing that the people in his life want his devotion more than anything else. That's the one thing he's unwilling to provide -- with tragic results -- in this biopic from director Michael Winterbottom.

Is it any good?

The look of The Look of Love is the Burt Bacharach era personified, lit and tinted in all its pretty, hep-cat glory. It's a joy to behold, the visual feast is so delicious. But the film dredges up more questions than it answers, and that nags at the audience. Raymond certainly lived a colorful life, but only a few shades of it are shown here. We see the man with a huge carnal appetite and little regard for jealous partners, but only briefly do we see how his relationships fall apart -- and it's not clear whether that even bothers him. He's apparently a shrewd businessman, building a fortune based on real estate and naked women, but not much of his acumen is on display (and if so, just fleetingly).

And while Raymond clearly loves his daughter, we rarely see him actually parenting her, and he totally neglects his sons. We don't see his battles with the conservative establishment, who deem him a pornographer and want to shut down his clubs. Nor is there much examination of how someone he loves ends up dead from a tragic overdose or how it affects him. There are the makings of a great movie in Raymond's rags-to-riches tale -- the acting is spot-on -- but the depths aren't sufficiently plumbed in The Look of Love. It's mostly about the surface. Or, rather, the look.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Look of Love's main character. What do you think of Paul Raymond as a husband and father? He's devoted to his kids, but is he a good parent?

  • How does the movie portray drinking, drugs, and smoking? Are there consequences? Are they realistic?

  • What's the movie's attitude toward sex? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on this topic.

  • How does Raymond's behavior affect the other people around him? How accurate do you think the movie is to his life? Why do filmmakers sometimes adjust facts?

Movie details

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