starring John Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Liev Schrieber, Sophia Vergara and Vanessa Paradis
written and directed by John Turturro
Called “Gigolo in New York” in Japan, Fading Gigolo sounds and looks like a Woody Allen movie. But it’s a John Turturro movie, maybe written with Woody Allen in mind. Allen and Turturro play two New York friends, Fioravante and Murray. Fioravante is losing his job in an antiquarian bookshop, leaving him only a part-time job in a flower shop to support himself. By chance his friend Murray has a wealthy lady dermatologist friend, Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone), who for some reason expresses a desire for a ménage à trois with her girlfriend, played by bombshell Sophia Vergara. Murray recommends his friend Fioravante. Fioravante isn’t into it at first, but economic necessity makes the idea grow on him and he decides to take the plunge. Murray becomes his pimp, taking a percentage of the action and quietly seeks more lady clients.
Trouble comes when Murray approaches a recently widowed, young-ish Hassidic Jewish mother, Avigal (Vanessa Paradis). The local Jewish neighborhood watchman, Dovi (Liev Schrieber), who has a thing for Avigal, suspects things are not kosher. So he tails Murray and Avigal when they leave the neighborhood together (incidentally taking Dovi well out of his jurisdiction). Dovi kidnaps Murray and drags him before a Hassidic rabbinical court in Brooklyn for crimes against modesty.
Fioravante falls in love with the quiet, modest Avigal. He doesn’t sleep with her, but his amorous feelings prevent him from completing the ménage with Dr. Parker and her friend. Avigal is reconciled with the rabbinic court and accepts Dovi, who then drives her back to Fioravante just to say farewell. Fioravante and Murray are out of the gigolo business.
Fading Gigolo was not a great commercial success in the theaters, and it sort of re-hashes a lot of old Allen themes and comedic situations. But it’s kind of cute for relaxing at home and I didn’t mind it.
All the best lines in the script are put out by Allen/Murray:
“Only rare people buy rare books.”
“Some guys just look better when they’re naked.”
“You’re disgusting in a very positive way.”
“You’re an experienced lover. Why shouldn’t you get paid for it?”
“When you don’t understand what the other person is saying, very often that’s a tremendous advantage.”