Trending
MOST READ
New Sensation: SA’s Austin Mahone and teen pop superstardom

New Sensation: SA’s Austin Mahone and teen pop superstardom

Music: Like the bulk of Austin Mahone’s Instagram account, this one’s a selfie. In a white tank top, hair coifed up real big, Mahone arranges his facial... By Matt Stieb 7/22/2014
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Best Brunch

Best Brunch

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Best Thai Food

Best Thai Food

Best of SA 2012: Tucked off Blanco Road in a bland shopping strip lies a tasty secret that has been keeping SA foodies smiling for over a decade. Once you pass through the rough exterior, you'll... 4/25/2012
Best Food Truck

Best Food Truck

Best of SA 2012: We love food trucks. But, honestly, there are days when the restaurant-on-wheels trend feels completely out of hand. Frequently operators wheeling out new mobile eateries... 4/25/2012
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Screens

Despite Appearances, Turturro’s 'Fading Gigolo' Charms

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

Allen and Turturro as pimp and ho


Fading Gigolo is a tough sell. It stars Woody Allen, who, in case you forgot, was in the news again over child molestation claims from the 1990s. A large part of it is about sex, and few probably want to think about sex and Woody Allen right now. It has the word “gigolo” in the title, and the last time that happened we got Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (barf).

How delightful it is to report that Fading Gigolo is rather charming. It takes an absurd premise, treats it with respect and then writer-director-star John Turturro lets it roll out in a way that feels organic.

Make no mistake: The movie feels organic. It is decidedly not. That absurd premise—Fioravante (Turturro) is a part-time florist who turns to prostitution to make ends meet—is cockamamie enough that you’d be forgiven for dismissing it outright. But it’s also part of the deal you must make with Fading Gigolo: Accept it for what it is or it won’t work for you.

Murray (Allen, playing his regular character at about 80 percent hyperactivity) is a rare book dealer who closes his shop on the Upper West Side because he can’t afford to keep it open (Manhattan rents!). As his friend Fioravante helps him pack up, Murray mentions that he saw his dermatologist and she confided that she wants to try a threesome. Murray, being an enterprising guy with a young family, said he knew someone who could help.

Fioravante is wise to Murray, and at first refuses. Then he looks at his checking account balance, which hovers around $650, and agrees to try a one-on-one with the dermatologist, Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone).

And herein lies the point when you, as an audience member, face the ultimate on-board-or-not test: The last entry in Fioravante’s checkbook is a check made out to cash, as if it were 1983. That’s the planet on which Fading Gigolo lives—a simpler time when there were no ATMs, and rich doctors with crappy marriages paid for sex with a florist instead of having a fling with someone from an AIDS benefit.

Murray gets to work, and he and Fioravante hit a hitch when Murray rekindles a friendship with Avigal (Vanessa Paradis) and persuades her to become a client. See, Avigal is Chasidic, and a widow—Murray knows her because he bought books from her husband—and she’s so lonely that she’s almost desperate from human contact. She just doesn’t know where to begin.

Fioravante’s work with Avigal is different from his other work—he also has sex with Selima (Sofia Vergara), Dr. Parker’s best friend. There’s no intercourse with Avigal, but the sessions are so intimate that Fioravante gets emotionally involved.

No one ever warned him that you don’t get high from your own supply, and soon he’s faced with a moral dilemma and scrutiny from the Chasidic community, including Liev Schreiber as a neighborhood watchman with a thing for Avigal.

Fading Gigolo is silly, but there’s a sensitivity and—dare I suggest—tenderness to it that makes it easy to overlook the silliness. The screenplay wouldn’t work without the right performances, and Turturro gets what he needs from his actors—especially himself.

Fading Gigolo (R)

Writ. and dir. John Turturro; feat. John Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Paradis
★★★ 1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Opens Fri, May 9 at Santikos Bijou

Recently in Screens & Tech
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus