Film: "Fading Gigolo"; Cast: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara; Director: John Turturro; Rating: ***
A mere mention of the word "Gigolo" conjures up images of a man living life on the fast track spiked with debauchery and sex. For a "fading gigolo", naturally one would expect a man running out of gas after living off the edge. And a film on this subject would definitely mean volatile drama.
But John Turturro's "Fading Gigolo" is high-concepter than a well developed drama, with a middle aged undistinguished man who suddenly becomes a sought after well paid stud who fulfills the fantasies of lonely women.
Maturely handled and sensitively created, it is a slow, charming film that works because of Turturro and Woody Allen's charisma.
Set in a Jewish neighbourhood of New York, with well etched characters, the film about two friends - Fioravante (John Turturro), a shy and reserved florist and Murray (Woody Allen), a bookshop owner - wanting to help each other.
Fioravante has known Murray for decades, ever since he tried to rob Murray's store as a teenager. Now the bookstore is on the verge of shutting down and a worried Murray, who has a wife and four kids to support, is wondering how to make ends meet.
All of a sudden he is asked by his dermatologist Parker (Sharon Stone) if he knows anyone who can render sexual services for cash?
Grabbing the opportunity to earn some bucks, Murray proposes acting as a pimp for Fioravante, who would service the wealthy clients and split the revenue.
Debating on moralistic grounds, Murray convinces Fioravante with, "Look at it as a commercial venture, where you offer magic to the lonely and you get paid for it."
Once convinced, their business takes off and flourishes till complications arise in the form of a young Jewish widow Abigail (Vanessa Paradis) with six kids and an admirer in tow.
Fioranvante's association with Abigail leads to some delicately fragile moments that keep you on tenterhooks with no romantic chemistry and regressive Jewish comedy and all.
"Fading Gigolo" is non-conformist with Turturro and Allen playing unconventional characters to the mark. John remains the mystery man to the end and Woody as the improbable pimp adds the curiosity value to the film. They are both versatile and endearing and they are competently supported by the rest of the cast especially Stone, Paradis and Sofia Vergara, who plays Selima, Parker's rich friend.
Liev Schreiber as Dovi, the dumb and jealous local Jewish police officer in love with Abigail, excels with some heartfelt comic moments.
The perfect Jewish setting adds aura and authenticity to the narration.
Written by the director, the dialogues are racy and humorously laced with exotic romantic phrases in Spanish. What adds to the viewing pleasure is the artistically layered jazz score.
Overall "Fading Gigolo" is a moderately entertaining dandy film that lacks dynamism.