Welcome to the scandalous world of Paul Raymond, entrepreneur, impresario, and the “king of Soho.” Seeing mediocrity in the smutty sex parlors of London, Raymond unveils his first “gentlemen’s club” in 1958 and gradually builds an empire of clubs and erotic magazines that brings him vast wealth while affronting British sexual mores. It also brings a litany of obscenity charges, a failed marriage, troubled children, and personal tragedy.
From a layered script by Matt Greenhalgh, Michael Winterbottom’s creative approach is energetic and inspired. Starting in black and white, the film’s aesthetic transforms over time, mirroring the cinema styles of each period (with a soundtrack that follows suit).
After struggling for years to bring Raymond’s story to the screen, Steve Coogan delivers a remarkable performance in a dramatic role sure to reframe his career. Was the man who railed against social hypocrisies simply a hypocrite himself? Coogan fully inhabits this complicated and contradictory man who seems almost tragic, invoking Oscar Wilde’s remark, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Screenwriters: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Steve Coogan, Anna Friel, Imogen Poots, Tamsin Egerton
About the Director
Michael Winterbottom’s films include 24 Hour Party People, In This World (winner of the Golden Bear at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival), Road to Guantanamo (winner of the Silver Bear a the 2006 Berlin International Film Festival), A Mighty Heart, A Summer in Genoa (winner of the Silver Seashell award at the 2008 San Sebastián International Film Festival), and Everyday, which received the coveted FIPRESCI Prize at the 2012 Stockholm International Film Festival.