“Fading Gigolo”: Late in Life Career Changes

Written and directed by John Turturro, Fading Gigolo tells the story of struggling Brooklyn florist Fioravante (Turturro), whose best friend Murray (Woody Allen) convinces him to become a male prostitute — with Murray as his pimp, of course — starting with wealthy dermatologist Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) and her pneumatic girlfriend Selima (Sofia Vergara), who hope to have a ménage à trois. (Being director has its perks, n'est-ce pas?) But Fioravante finds himself more drawn to Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), a deeply sheltered widow in an insular Chasidic community. It's easy to view this as Turturro's stab at a Woody Allen film, and while it does have an autumnal vibe reminiscent of Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (it's also the first time Allen's acted in a New York film since 2002, curiously enough), the charming Fading Gigolo is more watchable than much of Allen's last dozen or so pictures. Unlike Allen, director Turturro not only seems to have bothered to rehearse his cast, but he actually uses filmic techniques like “editing” to fine-tune scenes and enhance their emotional impact. Indeed, though every shot of Vergara emphasizes her cleavage to the point of parody, she's never quite as alluring as the glammed-down Paradis in a modest striped sweater. That's a director who cares about what he's doing.

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