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Saturday, 10 May 2014 05:37

'Fading Gigolo' tries too much, does too little + Video

'Fading Gigolo' tries too much, does too little
Written by Martha K. Baker
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About this Media...

  • Director: John Turturro
  • Dates: Opened May 9, 2014

If you were lucky enough to watch "Hung" on HBO a year or so ago, then you've already seen a good take on the concept that women will buy sex from clean and sober gentlemen. You will also have seen a better version of this theme than you get in John Turturro's "Fading Gigolo."

Turturro plays a part-time florist with a flower name: Fioravante. He's under-employed. He helps his old friend, Murray, close up shop, the book store that Murray's father ran for a long, long time in Brooklyn. Murray propositions Fioravante: how's about selling your body? Murray has been approached by his dermatologist to find her a man who will serve her more energetically than her husband does, and Murray thinks his young friend, the 40ish Fioravante, will do very nicely. In a reversal of a classic whore's joke, once Fioravante agrees, that is, once the two learn what kind of man he is, all that's left is to figure out what to charge.

So Fioravante starts his new endeavor with Dr. Parker, played leggily by Sharon Stone, and then he works his way up to a threesome that includes Selima, played by Sofia Vergara, who really acts the part rather than depending on her image as the bombshell in "Modern Family." Of course, he is successful in his job, not because he's shameless, but because he's kind and pays attention to his lovers. He and Murray happily split the paychecks, 40/60 in the Italian's favor. But then Fioravante meets another possible client, Avigal, a rabbi's widow. She is an enchantress, her cheeks hollow, her head covered, her voice a whisper. And Fioravante leaves the trappings of his Italian heritage to investigate the Hassidim of Brooklyn.

This population includes a neighborhood cop, played, complete with earlocks, by Liev Schreiber. He pines for Avigal, and she longs for affection, but she soon finds herself guilty of a "breach of modesty" in seeking a massage of the shoulders from Fioravante. Vanessa Paradis plays Avigal as a mysterious beauty with an agenda. She says to Fioravante: "You bring magic to the lonely." Turturro plays Fioravante as if he's half-dead. Compare Turturro's slogging through this role with his other current role in "God's Pocket" -- night and day. Woody Allen plays Murray, but he needs a director to tell him to act rather than just be his stuttering self, his hands aflutter.

Turturro directs from his own script, but he tries to do too much. He tries to present a sexcapade, starring an old gar and hungry women to contrast with the modest rabbi's widow, who's also a little peckish. He tries to present a neighborhood with ethnic lines criss-crossing, or not. For the Jews, he offers a trial; for the Italians, he offers, predictably, a Dean Martin tune.

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