Film Title: Fading Gigolo
Director: John Turturro
Starring: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis
Running Time: 90 min
The latest film directed by John Turturro (his fifth, somewhat astonishingly) looks and feels a little like a Woody Allen joint. That’s partly because it’s set in Brooklyn and partly because it’s a sex comedy that takes in more than a few first-class quips. It’s also because it allows Allen himself a large supporting role. This doesn’t happen too often. By our calculation, it’s been 14 years since he appeared as anybody other than himself in another person’s film.
There’s enough saucy humour here to explain why Allen agreed to take the gig. He plays Murray, the owner of a bookshop, who, faced with bankruptcy, happens upon an unlikely source of funds. His dermatologist (Sharon Stone) has suggested the notion of a threesome and Murray reckoned that Fioravante (Turturro), a florist, might be the man for the job. Unsurprisingly, Murray is uneasy with the notion, but he relents when he realises there’s $1,000 to be earned and that the clients are as easy on the eye as Ms Stone and Sofia Vergara.
Along the way, various other classically New York personalities make an appearance. Liev Schreiber turns up as some sort of Hasidic police officer in love with a widow from his own community, played (we kid you not) by Vanessa Paradis. Fioravante soon gets between them.
As you may have gathered, the plot is a little scattershot, the motivations a little obscure and the sexual politics a little wayward. But, making sense of a vaguely defined character, Turturro has enough charm and gusto to make his scenes fly.
Fading Gigolo is also charming in its evocation of very particular corners of New York City. Jazz decorates the soundtrack. Characters hang about in brown, delightfully cluttered rooms. An older Jewish man in glasses is forever calling round to make nebbish remarks.
Are we reminded of the work of another film-maker? It’s on the tip of my tongue.