FADING GIGOLO | THE REVIEW

FADING GIGOLO releases this Thursday May 1st in most art house cinemas throughout Australia (I know Dendy and Palace and Avoca Cinema are playing it – you will have to look up your local for more information). It looks like a Woody Allen film, but it is not, he is in it and this one stars and is directed by the amazing John Turturro. It also stars Sharon Stone, a woman I miss terribly in film, and the delightfully stunning Gloria from MODERN FAMILY, Sofia Vergara. The film is rated M and runs for 90mins. Enjoy our review of FADING GIGOLO from Kernel Andrew. All the best……………JK

 

FADING GIGOLO IMAGE | THE AUSTRALIAN MOVIE POSTER
FADING GIGOLO | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | THE AUSTRALIAN MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY ANDREW BRUSENTSEV

Let me say this…I adore John Turturro. He is a regular Cohen Brother’s scene stealer, Spike Lee collaborator and actor’s actor. I was very keen to see his latest writing and directorial effort, FADING GIGOLO. In this new picture FADING GIGOLO Turturro also plays the title role. He is an eccentric, quite unstated but brilliant man, named Fioravante. It is a typical character in many respects for Turturro, hard to tell as the man, let’s face it, is gifted.

He works in a bookshop owned by Woody Allen’s character Murray. The business is down on its luck and is closing down. Murray has financial problems, he is living in Williamsburg with a much younger woman and her four hilarious children (Murray’s significant other is played by Jill Scott); he has mouths to feed and bills to pay. We hear about this in one of those trademark improvised scenes from Allen’s repertoire which immediately set my alarm bells ringing. OK whose movie is this anyway? Are we going to see another Allen movie about the usual themes?

 

 

FADING GIGOLO IMAGE |  MURRAY (WOODY ALLEN) AND FIORAVANTE (JOHN TURTURRO)
FADING GIGOLO | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MURRAY (WOODY ALLEN) AND FIORAVANTE (JOHN TURTURRO)

 

Anyway Murray suggests that Fioravante sleep with Murray’s wealthy dermatologist for money. Murray was having a conversation with her and she mentioned that she wanted to experience a ménage a trois. Allen in his usual quippish manner states “I immediately thought of you”. Dr Parker wants to try this with one of her friends but first wants to sleep with the intended on her own. There we have it, in essence, the setup done in ten easy minutes. It’s hard not to get the feeling that you have seen this all before, not from Turturro, but from Allen. Considering the offer Fioravante accepts, Murray becomes his pimp so to speak.

Fioravante is a natural at the gigolo business. He is a handsome man and after his first session with Dr Parker (the dermatologist played very understatedly by Sharon Stone) proves to be an incredible lover. He really is the whole package. Multi-lingual, sensitive, intelligent and apparently well versed in the ways of satisfying women. Dr Parker introduces him quite quickly to Selima the other side of the ménage triangle (the absolutely breath taking Sofia Vergara who really steals most of the scenes she is in). Both of these women quickly become obsessed with our hero / gigolo and want him exclusively for themselves.

 

 

FADING GIGOLO IMAGE | DR PARKER (SHARON STONE) AND SELIMA (SOFIA VERGARA)
FADING GIGOLO | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | DR PARKER (SHARON STONE) AND SELIMA (SOFIA VERGARA)

 

Things are going well for him. He is meeting lots of women. Murray and he are making an absolute fortune. It seems their schemes are working aren’t they? Fioravante begins to question why he is doing this in the first place. Is he just feeding into the misery of his clients? I wish this theme was explored a little more but it is hinted at and discarded, shame really.

It is then that Murray gets the bright idea to set up Fioravante with Avigal (Vanessa Paradis, a very different role for a French pop singer but one that works quite well). She is a recently widowed deeply religious orthodox Jew who Murray detects is incredibly lonely. Murray meets her when he is having his kids checked for lice, he knows that she “specialises” in this kind of thing in the community. He takes all four boys on a journey to the Hassidic section of Williamsburg, which raises some eyebrows among the locals. The great scene of Allen walking the black kids through a Hassidic neighbourhood is priceless.

This plot development actually saved the movie for me. I was beginning to question the need for it all. Was this Turturro channelling Allen with Allen as his side kick? I didn’t get it. This dimension I believe saw Turturro introduce something of his own. It turned a bit of male fantasy (let’s be frank sleeping with Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara…ok maybe that’s just me) into something that was a sweet and had some serious depth.

 

 

FADING GIGOLO IMAGE | FIORAVANTE (JOHN TURTURRO)
FADING GIGOLO | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | FIORAVANTE (JOHN TURTURRO)

 

What could have been an absolute disaster in setting up a religious Hasidic woman with a male prostitute is rescued when you realise that after their first meeting Fioravante really has no intention of sleeping with her. It really begins to gather momentum when after a few awkward strange meetings they fall in love. This is for me where the real scene stealer of the movie joins the story. Liev Schreiber who plays Dovi, a sort of Hasidic neighbourhood watch / cop who has been in love with Avigal for a long time begins to suspect something is going on. In true slapstick detective style he follows them and enlists the help of his fellow neighbourhood patrol. The movie shifts gears between an odd love story and a bit of slapstick as both Murray and Fioravante are pursued by the Orthodox Hasidic authorities of Williamsburg. It’s all good fun.

I won’t spoil the rest of the story. It ends not how you may think it will. But when it did end I felt a little cheated. I thought a lot about Turturro’ s intentions. This movie was too much Allen to be anybody else. Only in the late 2nd and 3rd acts did I feel it found its own voice.

That being said Marco Pontecorvo really does outstanding work behind the camera. He captures through the lens a bygone Manhattan and Brooklyn. It is as if we are walking through these streets as they were in the 40’s and 50’s. The jazz score by jazz great Gene Ammons is also fantastic.

The movie for all my criticisms is very funny and the actors do well with what they have. I just wish there was more Turturro and less Allen in there for once.

 

3 Pops

 

 

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