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Fading Gigolo - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Fading Gigolo
Directing: B-
Acting: B
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B-

To say Fading Gigolo is implausible is an understatement. This would be a foolish complaint about, say, a superhero movie -- but a quiet romance dramedy? About a middle-aged man who becomes a male prostitute on a lark? And the likes of Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara pay him for sex? In what universe?

In John Turturro's universe, apparently: he wrote and directed this. But he ties little of the story to reality, having the title character, Fioravante (played by Turtorro himself) get talked into having sex for money by -- and this is a little weird -- his father figure, Murray (Woody Allen, making a very rare appearance in a film not by himself).

To the movie's credit, it gets right to the point: Murray poses the suggestion to Fioravante in the opening scene. Murray's dermatologist (Stone) and her rich friend (Vergara) are interested in having a ménage a trois, and does he know anyone. Murray says yes, with Fioravante in mind, and voila!, he's a pimp. And then in comes Vanessa Paradis as Avigal, the super conservative Jewish widow Murray takes a black kid to, to get rid of his lice. (This movie takes some strange turns.) Murray sees how lonely Avigal is, and thinks Fioravante can fulfill a need.

Vergara and Paradis, both 41, are the youngest cast members here. Stone is 56; Turturro himself is 57; Woody Allen is, well, ancient. And in comes Liev Schreiber, 45, who seems to suffer from unrequited love with Avigal. He's a member of the "community watch," and meddles. In any case, given that in Hollywood terms, even 41 is ancient, you won't be seeing many teenagers in the theater watching this movie.

You may not see many people at all, actually. It's tempting to say it's too bad, because Fading Gigolo has its moments. Unfortunately just as many of those moments either ring false or are just plain dumb as the many moments that work well. Paradis in particular gives a performance that is both subtle and commands attention. Turturro seems to be trying to do the same, but really comes across as just stoic.

Turturro clearly as a lot of friends in Hollywood, happy to help him out in his flawed but moderately entertaining movie. Fading Gigolo is pleasant enough, but doesn't offer an experience that matches the presumed draw of its star power, their median age notwithstanding. It does provide a few good laughs, and is generally amusing. And then there's a scene with Vergera getting fucked from behind by Turturro and chatting with Sharon Stone like they're just girlfriends getting their nails done together, and it's just awkward. And not the kind of awkward that's deliberate. This wouldn't work in a Todd Solondz movie either.

Even that's not particularly terrible. But neither is it particularly great, leaving a film that hints at being thought provoking but winds up merely being pleasantly forgettable.

John Turturro becomes a male ho in FADING GIGOLO.

Overall: B-
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