Published Aug 19, 2014If you've ever happened to think how it might be funny to see Woody Allen pimping out John Turturro, then Fading Gigolo is the movie for you. In a rare role in a film that he did not also direct, Allen is a hoot as an entrepreneur pushing Turturro's reluctant and unlikely lothario into the business of pleasuring women. Careful to not veer too far into farce, there's also a tender love story thrown in for good measure that doesn't entirely work, but at least deserves credit for presenting a unique romance that hasn't quite been seen onscreen before.
When Floravente's (Turturro) family bookstore goes out of business, his best friend Murray (Allen) seizes an opportunity after he learns that his dermatologist (Sharon Stone) is seeking to have a threesome with her ravishing friend Selima (Sofia Vergara). Soon, Murray is operating under the alias Dan Bongo in setting up trysts for Floravente, and the two are making money for their efforts.
It's all fun and games until Floravente meets with the Jewish widow Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), who has never really felt a man's touch before, and begins to fall for her. This is especially troublesome because a police officer, Dovi (Liev Schreiber), also has strong feelings for her and appears to be a better match on account of his standing in the Jewish community.
Like his earlier musical Romance & Cigarettes, this is an offbeat film from director Turturro that rarely feels as if it's on autopilot. Even the familiar elements — Murray's comic relief presence and the love triangle that develops — feel as though they are fresh thanks to good casting and a few twists on the typical fare. It's also nice to see a great actor like Turturro, who occasionally moonlights with supporting roles in big-budget spectacles (looking at you, Transformers), also finding time (and money) to make passion projects like this.
Though the commentary track with Turturro that's part of the supplemental features contains quite a few long silences where he and his assistant Cameron Bossert seem just to be caught up in watching the film, there's also insight to be found in his discussions of making the film. A few deleted scenes don't exactly add much to the experience, but they are fascinating if only for the footage of Allen improvising with the young kids he shares the screen with and the outtakes these scenes produce.