Overview: Murray, a broke old man, devises a plan to make some cash. Antidote Films; Rated R; 90 min.
Standard: John Turturro has built a reputation as one of the best character actors out there. I have long thought that this is exactly what he deserves: a large scale, leading role. If nothing else, being the most reliable and solid piece in the early Coen films warrants the opportunity. Turturro taking the helm as the director/co-lead actor (he plays Fioravante) for this film caused an initial influx of prejudiced love on my end, and it took a little while for that subjective bubble to burst. Unfortunately, many aspects of Turturro’s direction were standard or worse. For instance, there was too much application of a panning camera style, and I found the score to be the second most shrill, disruptive, and annoying element in the movie. Somewhat related: Sofia Vergara has a supporting role as Selima.
The Sex and Love: Fading Gigolo is undeniably sexy in a very adult measure. Both women and men will be rather entertained on that aspect, as the film finds a way to bring lighthearted humor to nearly every sexual encounter. But, what it does with even more maturity is explore the boundaries of love. Fioravante, or as we come to know him, Claude (his gigolo name), is an older man who lives alone working at a flower shop. Through the course of his comedic career choice, Fioravante falls in love with Avigail (Vanessa Paradis) a Jewish widow, ultimately ruining the business venture. The interactions between the Vioravante and Avigail offer the truest moments this film has to offer.
Awkwardly Uncomfortable: Woody Allen has built a career of being charming while also being bumbling, neurotic, and awkward. Lending that trademark persona here, Allen’s go-to acting style doesn’t feel as comfortable as it might in one of his own films. Namely, the charm is somehow deflated in scenes shared with Turturro’s character.
Overall: This film has fun moments. At times it is lighthearted, even as it is striking serious notes. The sexual element is handled well and in a tasteful manner. But, as a whole, Fading Gigolo all starts to feel like one long, poorly thought joke clumsily negotiated by Turturro and Allen.