It's a case of “fourth time unlucky” for frequent collaborators Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan. Well, “uninspired” might be more accurate. Tailor-made for Coogan's self-deprecating humor, their previous undertakings have been irreverent, inventive takes on the biopic (24 Hour Party People), literary adaptation (A Cock and Bull Story) and travelogue (The Trip). In their return to the “based on a true story” genre, the director's eye for understated, alluring visuals and his leading man's wry, rakish performance can only intermittently enliven Matt Greenhalgh's stodgy screenplay. Coogan plays Paul Raymond, the impresario who amasses Britain's largest fortune through his gentlemen's clubs, skin mags and less scandalous ventures. That he achieves this by maintaining a steadily seedy course is extremely problematic from a narrative standpoint. Playing a man in debauched stasis for decades, Coogan has no interesting avenues down which to take his character. And, as the film's told-in-flashback framing device alerts us at the outset how all this ends for Paul and his cherished daughter/lieutenant Debbie (Imogen Poots), the only surprise is how quickly the film's more titillating elements—primarily the stunning Tamsin Egerton in various states of undress—begin to feel played out.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, July 23, 2013
- Critic's Score: C
- Watch the trailer