Blu-ray Review: John Turturro's 'Fading Gigolo' with Woody Allen & Vanessa Paradis

By Daniel S Levine,
Author Rating: 
2.5 Stars

The idea of Fading Gigolo might have provided for a laugh-out-loud raunchy comedy in other hands, but for writer/director/star John Turturro, the concept is turned into a more low-key thoughtful piece. Unfortunately, at such a short length, the story of an older man pimping his younger, middle-age friend out, is more like a sketch than a fully realized film.

Fading Gigolo finds Turturro (best known for his appearances in Coen brothers movies) as Fioravante, a soft-spoken guy who splits his time between a flower shop and working at friend Murray’s (Woody Allen) book store. But when Murray has to close shop, he suddenly brings up his dermatologist, Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone). It turns out that she wants a menage-a-trois and Murray thinks Fioravante would be the perfect guy for it. They hash out terms and once they come to terms with the idea of working in the world’s oldest profession, business starts to boom.

Now, this admittedly would make for a nice 90-minute film alone, but Turturro is so uninterested in turning that into a boisterous comedy that he throws in a second plot. This one centers on Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), a Hassidic rabbi’s widow. Murray convinces her that Fioravanti is actually a massage healer and when they meet, Fioravanti begins to fall in love with her. That’s how Dovi (Liev Schreiber) comes into the plot, since he’s concerned for Avigal’s well-being.

None of this is as “laugh-out-loud funny” as the annoying pull-quote on the Blu-ray cover might have you think. That’s false advertising. Yes, there are funny moments throughout - Sofia Vergara is particularly hilarious - but it is clear that Turturro is influenced by his co-star’s movies. New York is photographed lovingly throughout and the humor is relatively low-key, which is a perfect fit for Turturro’s laid-back acting style.

Millenium Entertainment’s Blu-ray release isn’t stacked with extras. There’s a few deleted scenes and outtakes, which highlight some of Allen’s improve, as well as a commentary from Turturro.

Fading Gigolo is worth checking out if you miss Allen’s own performances from his movies, since he rarely casts himself any longer. Props go to Turturro for finding a perfect role for him. However, Turturro’s story just feels lacking. We expect there to be more of a story here about getting old, feeling the need to find one’s place in the world. While he touches on those themes, the film is actually too short to really address them. Wait for it to pop up on Netflix.

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