Review: ‘Fading Gigolo’ (M) ****

CONTRARY to misinformed media blah, this is not a Woody Allen film. Sure, he plays a pivotal role in it as retired rare-book merchant Murray who sees a chance to improve his financial position when his dermatologist (Sharon Stone) asks him if he knows a man who might be interested in joining her and a friend (Sofia Vergara) in a sexual threesome.

fading-gigolo2Murray’s best friend is florist Fioravante (John Turturro). “Fading Gigolo” is a Turturro film in every significant sense – playing the lead role, writing and directing. And while he and Allen have some great conversation sequences that evoke high points of Allen’s writing/directing filmography, who’s in charge here is never in question.

Murray finds pimping financially congenial. Fioravante overcomes initial self-doubt as a sex-worker. The pair adopt working names Dan and Virgil respectively. When Dan introduces Virgil to Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), widowed after 18 years of marriage, charming, delicious to the eye, the film’s dramatic intentions become more apparent. For the local Hasidic community’s private law-enforcer Dovi (Liev Schreiber) has adored Avigal from afar since school days.

Brooklyn suburbia looks charming. Its residents are friendly enough except for the kangaroo court of bewhiskered elders sitting in judgement of Murray for contributing to the corruption of Avigal against convention harking back several millennia. She and Virgil might be headed for a predictable outcome. The denouement is the film’s least convincing passage but its precedents forgive that.

At Capitol 6 and Palace Electric

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