(This review has first appeared on Tellychakkar.com.http://www.tellychakkar.com/movie/movie-news/movie-review-fading-gigolo-389)
78 year old Woody Allen reminds me of the late Dev Anand. Both have been bad actors who can either charm or irritate. Like his Indian counterpart, Woody also has a never say die spirit when it comes to directing. To his credit however, it is his excellent writing in movies like Match Point and Midnight in Paris; which has seen him through other repetitive, biographical films.
Fading Gigolo seems to be a script tailor made for Woody. As usual he doesn’t go beyond playing himself: a harmless looking old, garrulous man, Murray (a Brooklyn book shop owner to suit his thick glasses and intellectual image) who chats up women on behalf of his friend. In other words, he plays pimp to his friend turned gigolo. His character is best described in a small chuckle worthy scene when his friend, Fioravante (John Turturro, also the writer and director) asks him:
“Are you my friend?”
“I am a friend.”
“And you want to turn me into a whore?”
Desperate times have led to desperate measures. Murray’s bookshop is closing down. Fioravante’s flower business is not in full bloom either. Without wasting any screen time, the film begins right when Murray makes this absurd proposition to his sexy and younger friend. He has just been randomly told by his rich Dermatologist, Dr Parker, (the scintillating Sharon Stone) that she and her girlfriend (Sofia Vergara) wouldn’t mind paying for a night of threesome adventure. Given Murray’s persuasive charm, the friend does not require much of a push. This part of the is the most unconvincing too.
Starting at a charming, awkward rendezvous with Stone, Fioravante quickly moves on to humour laced series of bedtime stories. An accompanying jazz soundtrack throughout, adds to the light tone of the film. The rich, hot women blatantly discuss the much in demand gigolo’s skin and his ‘pistachio’ flavour. His six feet plus something height is the real deal for the sexy Sofia whose deepest woe is that she has always dated only short men.
Murray is so taken in by his new found role in the world’s oldest profession is that he tries to sell the idea of his friend as a ‘therapist’ to a young Hassidic widow, Avigal (Vanessa Paradis).
Here, the sexual tone, which never borders on vulgar despite some explicit scenes, subtly changes from harmless fun to gentle romance. There is some amount of New York Jewish cultural and ethnic element thrown in here. However, the film chooses to touch upon it very lightly. A neighbourhood parole officer (Liev Schreiber) gets involved, taking the film into a somewhat unconvincing territory of love and loneliness.
The film stays on the periphery with its light treatment all throughout and simply fades away from memory as the end titles roll in. I would have loved to watch more of the screen scorching Sharon Stone, the luscious Sofia Vergara and their tryst with an exotic gigolo beyond what exists.
Fading Gigolo, despite a dash of humour, a male fantasy premise and Turturro as a wannabe Woody; doesn’t quite have the mojo.