There’s a sense of familiarity in Fading Gigolo, John Turturro’s latest. A sense that this is actually a Woody Allen film in disguise. Maybe it’s the New York skyline? Maybe it’s the non-diegetic sounds of clarinets floating through the autumn breeze? Maybe it’s the character’s dialogue that is equal parts philosophical and self-deprecating? Maybe it’s the fact Woody Allen is in it? Whatever it is, we feel we’ve seen this all before.
John Turturro plays a part-time florist convinced by his old friend (the aforementioned Allen) to hire himself out for the, ahem, enjoyment of the wealthy women in New York. Starting off with Sharon Stone’s bored housewife, Turturro becomes a hit with the ladies due to his ability to get underneath their skin and address their every need. During this first act, Fading Gigolo works fairly well. Somewhat salacious, it almost feels like smut for grown-ups. A particularly fun scene involves Allen and Turturro playing off as they discuss what their pimp and ho names should be.
Unfortunately, once Vanessa Paradis enters the picture as a Jewish housewife in mourning for her late husband, the picture slams on the breaks. This is in no way down to Paradis, who is exceptional. The fact of the matter is that the blossoming relationship between her Turturro failed to engage us. Their stolen meetings in Central Park never find traction. Their culmination of this fledgling romance in the final act is right and just. However, like the film as a whole, we have to get through a fair bit of nothing to get to something which, considering the stellar cast, is a shame.
It’s not a bad film. It’s not a great film. It just … is.
Those looking for a more interesting film covering similar themes are best to look in the direction of Stacie Passon’s Concussion.