Director: John Turturro
Cast: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, John Turturro, Sofia Vergara, Live Schreiber, Vanessa Paradis
Duration: 90 mins
Rating: M – Sex scenes, coarse language and mature themes
Release Date: 1 May, 2014
Critics Verdict: Fading Gigolo has had mixed review but we think it sounds like a lot of fun.
Heather Taylor Johnson for InDaily says: “Turturro plays Fioravante, a man easily persuaded by his long-time friend Murray (Allen) to become a gigolo. Turns out Murray’s dermatologist (Sharon Stone) is interested in a threesome and is willing to pay a man to join her and her friend Selima (Sofia Vergara), and since Fioravante has just lost his bookshop, finances are a bit of a worry. He acquiesces, bringing a new face to “gigolo” and a new sensitivity.
When Murray, now firm in his role as “unlikely pimp”, sets him up with Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), a Hasidic Jew widowed two years and unaccustomed to anything outside her Orthodox religion, she agrees to a massage from Fioravante, opening up her world to touch, and opening up Fioravante to the possibility of love.
The characters are interesting and are played well by all the actors (Paradis, in her first English-speaking role, is particularly convincing, and Turturro adds something unique to his repertoire), but, in the end, I didn’t care what happened to any of them.
Liev Schreiber, as the over-protective Hasidic neighbourhood watchman who’s quietly pined for Avigal since childhood, is too brusque to engender any sympathy, and though he brings about a potentially brilliant ending, it unfortunately just sits there on the screen.
The plot, too, is a good one, especially as we’re looking at the Hasidic community without making it the butt of a joke or the subject of an eerie wrongdoing. Turturro normalises it, adding an exotic, however wholesome, flavour to the script. I think the problem with this film is that it Is not funny enough to be a romantic comedy or a sophisticated comedy, yet it seems to cling to the idea that it was a comedy.”
The Guardian says: “It may not be an act of enormous modesty, but director John Turturro’s decision to cast himself as an astonishingly-gifted male prostitute proves a good call in this comedy curio, the most charming film at Toronto this year. The rest of the casting is similarly off-key: a mild-mannered florist, Fioravante (Turturro) is pimped out impromptu by his friend, failing bookstore owner Woody Allen. Fioravante’s first client: Allen’s dermatologist, played by Sharon Stone, on fruitcake form, forever knocking back shots in her penthouse, giving callers the full Basic Instinct and snuggling up to girlfriend Sofia Vergara, who also samples Fioravante’s wares.” (4/5 Stars)
New York Magazine says: “What hallucinogen was Turturro on when he came up with this plot? It’s so crazy that it’s … fun. You have to set aside the endless improbabilities and impossibilities and accept Fading Gigolo as a fairy tale devised by a man who’s philosophically committed to the idea that life is a romantic commedia and that the only sin is not acting on one’s feelings. It’s okay to cringe from time to time — you have to cringe at lines like “You bring magic to the lonely.” The scenes with the glittery-eyed Stone and Vergara (who want Fioravante for a threesome) don’t quite rise above their one-joke premise (the women are projections), but Paradis takes things to a different level. She quivers under Fioravante’s touch, like an oyster. The tears that spring into her big eyes on that tiny face evoke a world of solitude and self-effacement that must quickly be counteracted.”