Woody Allen stars in this rather strange sex-fuelled love story, harking back to his prime with his classic awkwardness as he tries to navigate the fact that he is now actually a pimp. Yes, a pimp. A pimp who encourages his florist friend – playing by the brilliant John Turturro (who also directed and wrote the film), who uses his deadpan uncertainty about the whole situation to drive this movie as a surprisingly touching drama.
Woody’s Murray tries to help out his attractive dermatologist (Sharon Stone) by proposing Fioravante (Turturro) when she mentions that her and her friend Selima (Sofia Vergara) are looking for a male to join in on a threesome. Ever the opportunist, Murray jumps at the idea of taking some of the cut while Fioravante is easily led into the heavy-lifting, working through clients until a reputation builds up about his love-making.
Sharon’s dignity contrasted with Sofia’s particularly wild nature gives Turturro some nice dynamics to juggle, retaining the comedy element to the film and making for some genuinely hilarious moments as the film glides through during Fioravante settling into his status as a bonafied gigalo.
Soon enough, Murray is in over his head and unwilling to admit that he has become a pimp. It’s this contrast of Murray’s rationalising with Fioravante’s blunt realistic take on it that drives the changing dynamic between the two friends.
Fioravante may have learnt an awkward way of satisfying his clients, but he forget to detach himself every now and then, causing problems when he falls for the nervous widow Avigal (Vanessa Paradis). It’s here that things become a bit depressing, and rather hopeless. Turturro tears between his put-on suave personality and his uncertainty, which he portrays extremely well.
Of course, Turturro isn’t afraid to cut through the newly sophisticated and seductive Fioravante and progressively expose the fact that he is really in over his head. As Murray drifts off into the background and Fioravante takes centre stage, Fading Gigalo becomes less of a comedy of errors and more of an understated love story.
Having Liev Schrebier as an emotionally invested Jewish cop who latches onto the pimp-gigalo deal provides a bit of tension to the film, but ultimately his character is dull and dry compared to the interplay between Murray and Fioravante. And that’s what ultimately saves Fading Gigalo from becoming dipping below average, the chemistry between Allen and Turturro makes for some very fun, realistically awkward conversations, with them trying to reconcile the fact that they have now broken the law.
Enough charm to make up for some really dry moments, Fading Gigalo stands as a showcase for Turturro’s unquestionable talent, painting him as similar to Allen in that he is a purveyor of bare-bones realism. >
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Fading Gigalo is currently screening in cinemas nation-wide