MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM is Britain’s most intriguing film- maker. Averaging a movie a year, he’s made a sci-fi love story (Code 46), one the most sexually explicit mainstream films ever released (9 Songs) and a trio of increasingly loose adaptations of Thomas Hardy novels. And when Hardy doesn’t inspire, he’s got Steve Coogan.
The pair have now teamed up for their fourth project together. After 24 Hour Party People, A Cock and Bull Story and The Trip comes The Look of Love. Like 24 Hour Party People, it’s a true story of a man who changed his city. Coogan plays Paul Raymond, the “King of Soho”, founder of London’s first strip club and, by the 90s, Britain’s richest man. For Winterbottom the partnership has provided critical plaudits and for Coogan it’s helped him move beyond Alan Partridge and erase memories of less successful forays into film (Around The World in 80 Days, in which he starred alongside Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger recouped less than a quarter of its $100m budget).
Keen as ever to surprise audiences, Winterbottom is now said to be interested in turning 24 Hour Party People into a musical, with Coogan reprising his role as Tony Wilson. Whether Winterbottom can make Coogan a West End star remains to be seen. At the very least it’s more entertaining than the pious duo Coogan formed with Hugh Grant in the Leveson Inquiry.