This movie is absolutely charming. Written, directed and starring John Turturro, it''s virtually a two-hander because of the silent partner, so to speak. Woody Allen. You can find a very funny Q&A online in which Turturro talks to Stephen Colbert about courting, casting, and...See more
This movie is absolutely charming. Written, directed and starring John Turturro, it''s virtually a two-hander because of the silent partner, so to speak. Woody Allen. You can find a very funny Q&A online in which Turturro talks to Stephen Colbert about courting, casting, and collaborating with Woody on this movie. Allen evidently had a major influence. The film has something of the colour scheme, the patina, of Allen''s own A Rainy Day in New York (2019), a romantic soft light, a sort of warm autumnal glow. Both films also boast the presence of Liev Schreiber in supporting roles. The movie begins with Allen''s character, Murray, closing down a rare bookstore. Fioravante (Turturro) is on hand to help, and Murray proposes a business opportunity, lucrative for both of them. Fioravante will go from florist to gigolo, and satisfy the needs of Dr Parker, a sexually frustrated (and married) dermatologist, played by Sharon Stone. She and her girlfriend, Selima (Sofia Vergara) want to experiment a litttle, try a ''menage''. Turturro''s character is incredulous, but doesn''t take long to warm up to the idea. Success with Dr Parker, one on one, leads to further engagements. Matters become complicated when Murray tries to discreetly interest an hasidic widow, Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), in Fioravante''s capable hands. This attracts the prurient interest of neighbourly hasidic security (Schreiber), and then a reckoning is on the cards. I remember watching Kermode and Mayo talk about this, and Kermode, an Allen fan, was more than a little incredulous at this movie, calling it wish fulfilment, a male fantasy. Well, well, weeeel maybe, but maybe not. There are aspects that might cause the brow to furrow, such as Murray''s having a relationship with an African-American woman and her sons. There''s a charming scene in which Murray teaches Avigal''s oh-so-serious sons to play baseball with the black kids, while their mother has a tryst in the woods with Fioravante. The coda of this relationship is a bit abrupt and unexpected, but as they say in the film, where there''s love there''s pain. The outcome of the much anticipated MFF threesome is also a little bit fairytale-like (see for yourself). Fioravante''s success as a gigolo is, like his charisma, understated, and his inner conflict over what he and Murray are doing is quietly, and persuasively handled. Have you seen any of the Marvel movies? Stuff like Black Panther? Or the rehash of Batman as Batwoman? Playing to the social media gallery with overemphasis and crass superficiality, such as makes a film like Fading Gigolo a cause of celebration for its discretion and naturalistic emotion. And one can include the sex and nudity into that assessment. Sexy rather than vulgar. The major pleasure of this film is that it is, in effect, a Woody Allen genre film, one that, like the work of an admirer or a pupil, throws a refreshing new light on its hero''s oeuvre. The jazz is different, the hues are a little different, the humour is recognisable but still it''s like a variation on the theme. Allen is seen, by the camera, he is regarded differently, and his acting presents itself as a departure from the norm, not far from it but still, enough to make it interesting. Fading Gigolo is funny. It''s amusing. It''s touching, it''s tender, and scenes like the baseball game, the date-experiences with Fioravante, the abduction and rabbinical court, and finally in the café at the end, it is wholly unexpected, and not at all, NOT AT ALL, like the multiplex cartoon crapola that is clogging the arteries of cinema today. Recommended. It is a pleasure.