Synopsis: Fioravante decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way of making money to help his cash-strapped friend, Murray. With Murray acting as his “manager”, the duo quickly finds themselves caught up in the crosscurrents of love and money.
Release Date: April 18, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Romance, Comedy
John Turturro has built his name and reputation on being a solid character actor, working with directors such as the Coen brothers and Spike Lee over the course of his thirty-plus year career. Like many who have been around Hollywood that long, Turturro has also done a bit of writing and directing, most notably on his 2005 musical romantic comedy Romance & Cigarettes. Eight years later, Turturro got the itch to write and direct again, and the resulting film is Fading Gigolo.
Set against the backdrop of New York City, Fading Gigolo stars Turturro (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as Fioravante, a part-time florist, and Woody Allen (Midnight In Paris) as his friend Murray, a struggling book store owner. Both men are under-employed and need money, so Murray comes up with a scheme in which his dermatologist, the lonely Dr. Parker (Basic Instinct‘s Sharon Stone) will pay to have sex with Fioravante. After the first encounter, Dr. Parker lets her friend, Selima (Sofia Vergara from “Modern Family”), in on the deal. Before long, Murray and Fioravante start to go by the respective aliases Dan Bongo and Virgil, and Murray has Fioravante’s schedule filled with customers and both of their pockets filled with cash. Problems arise when Fioravante meets a customer named Avigal (Vanessa Paradis from Heartbreaker), a Jewish widow for whom he begins to have genuine feelings. Fioravante tries to overcome cultural and religious differences in order to win Avigal’s heart.
Turturro wrote the script for Fading Gigolo with Woody Allen in mind for the role of Murray the entire time, even seeking Allen’s criticism on early drafts of the screenplay. Because of this, the film has the feel of a Woody Allen movie, with all the dry wit and hyperbole of works like Annie Hall and Manhattan. What it lacks, however, is heart. None of the characters are interesting enough to generate any emotion with the audience. Some of them are humorous at times, and therefore end up in comedic situations, but there’s not enough laughs to carry the entire film. When the sparse laughing stops, the audience is left with a mediocre story.
There are really two movies at work in Fading Gigolo. One is a Woody Allen comedy and the other is a world colliding romance. However, the two halves seem to be working against each other rather than coexisting; instead of functioning together as a romantic comedy, the ingredients just come together into a romance…and a comedy. Because of this patchwork structure, Fading Gigolo suffers from a bit of an identity crisis and, therefore, doesn’t feel like a completely coherent movie.
One of the more impressive elements in Fading Gigolo is its soundtrack. The incidental music was composed by bassist Abraham Laboriel (The Mexican) and drummer Bill Maxwell (“Martin”), both seasoned jazz composers and performers who give the score a definite New York jazz sound to which the viewer can’t help but bob his or her head. As if the jazzy score weren’t enough, the soundtrack to Fading Gigolo also features a number of jazz tunes by the likes of Gene Ammons (to whose music Turturro reportedly listened while writing the script), Trombone Shorty, and Dean Martin. When all else fails, Fading Gigolo‘s soundtrack will keep the audience’s toes tapping and fingers snapping to the funky beat.
Although the screenplay to Fading Gigolo is credited to John Turturro, Woody Allen’s influence is very apparent in the comedy. Most of the humor comes from the dry delivery of quick little one-liner snippets of dialogue that are set up by another character. For example, during Fioravante and Dr. Parker’s initial meeting, she says to him “want me to take my clothes off” to which he replies “maybe after.” In another scene, Fioravante tells Murray that “you need help,” and Murray doesn’t miss a beat by saying that “I get help…twice a week.” There’s nothing gut-busting in the film, but the combination of the quick-witted dialogue and the comfortable chemistry of the cast provides more than a few snickers. Like many of Allen’s films, Fading Gigolo is a thinking person’s comedy; it doesn’t let laughs get in the way of the plot. Unfortunately, there’s not much plot either, so maybe Turturro should have gone for the belly laughs instead of the nodding chuckles.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): John Turturro
- Screenwriter(s): John Turturro
- Cast: John Turturro (Floravante)Woody Allen (Murray)Sharon Stone (Dr. Parker) Vanessa Paradis (Avigal)Liev Schreiber (Dovi)Sofia Vergara (Selima)
- Editor(s): Simona Paggi
- Cinematographer: Marco Pontecorvo
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Abraham Laboriel
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA