' Gigolo' has charm, but not so lasting
John Turturro writes, directs and stars in “Fading Gigolo,” a slight, minor comedy that feels like something Woody Allen might have come up with on a lazy afternoon. There is a New York setting, jazz on the soundtrack and even Allen himself, playing a bookstore-owner-turned-pimp.
Turturro is Fioravante, a low-key florist who is short of money. Pal Murray (Allen) learns his female doctor and a friend are curious about having a ménage à trois, so he pushes moon-eyed Fioravante for the gig. Murray also decides that being a pimp requires a new moniker, so he toys around with such names as Johnny Barracuda and Spanish Jack.
Fioravante is a quick hit, with his quiet, soulful routine clicking with customers. That's one of the movie's big stumbling blocks. Fioravante doesn't seem particularly deep or romantic, just introverted and sluggish.
Things get marginally more interesting when the gigolo meets Avigal (French pop star Vanessa Paradis), a Hasidic rabbi's lonely widow. Paradis acts with a lovely vulnerability, and the movie starts to flirt with actual feelings and genuine emotions. But it's just a blip, as Murray winds up kidnapped by a group of angry Hasids (don't ask) and things kick into high shtick.
Because the film is unable to settle on a tone, it's hard to get invested in much of anything. Believability is never really a factor; after all; it's the kind of movie in which women played by Sofia Vergara and Sharon Stone pay a grand each to sleep with a florist who looks like John Turturro.
Randy Cordova writes for the Arizona Republic.