‘Fading Gigolo’ sees a rare acting role for director Woody Allen. Content in over-seeing films than appearing in them, it usually takes a lot for him to appear in front of cameras. It’s appropriate he’s chosen ‘Fading Gigolo’ for his on-camera return as it shares similarities with his work. Exploring humanity’s frailties in a comedic way makes good use of Allen’s scarcely seen thespian skills.
Fioravante (John Turturro) wants to help his long-time friend Murray (Woody Allen). Continually looking for ways to support his family, Murray’s financial situation is dire. Hitting on what he thinks is a good idea, he suggests Fioravante become a professional gigolo. Servicing a ‘select wealthy clientele’, he soon becomes highly in demand. When meeting Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), his world changes with his new career further complicating their frantic lives.
Written and directed by star Turturro, ‘Fading Gigolo’ is a fair attempt in doing something new. Using the romantic comedy genre as its base, it explores the character’s issues with intimacy and religion. All members of the Jewish faith, their actions continually clash with the doctrines by which they have lived. The culture shock in breaking away from established guidance brings some interesting reactions with Turturro subtly showing these changes.
These serious issues are reasonably conveyed in a generally amusing manner. ‘Fading Gigolo’s more funnier moments come from Allen who does his usual ‘shy nerdy Jewish guy’ routine well. His performance outshines those of his co-stars who seem somewhat dis-engaged. Turturro in particular fails to project the necessary charm his role needs in order to seduce the ladies he meets. This is one of Fading Gigolo’s few down-sides with certain character motivations also being made frustratingly unclear.
Although not in the same league as Allen’s work, ‘Fading Gigolo’ has its moments. Unlike some comedies it creates genuine amusement about a group of people awkwardly learning the art of seduction.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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