I never thought I’d see Woody Allen act again. He’s already replaced himself in his own movies with the likes of Owen Wilson and Jesse Eisenberg. What John Turturro did to lure Allen out in front of the camera again can only be imagined. Maybe it was the promise of filming in New York and jazz on the soundtrack? Whatever the promise for Fading Gigolo, Allen bought it.
Turturro writes, directors and stars in the movie, his character Fioravante becoming an unlikely gigolo to Murray (Allen), an equally unlikely pimp. With clients ranging from a classy doctor (Sharon Stone) in search of a menage a trois with super-hot friend (Sofia Vergara), to a gentle Hasidic widow played by Vanessa Paradis, the plot evolves from a money-making venture to one of unrequited love in a chasm of loneliness.
The film is both poignant and funny in equal measure, and is surprisingly genuine in its delivery and sentiment. The cast is superb and both Sharon Stone, with legs from here to Christmas, and Sofia Vergara, a real-life Jessica Rabbit, are marvelous. It’s also an interesting step away from the tough guy role for Liev Schreiber, who plays a member of the Hasidic community who sniffs out the unorthodox goings on. The characterisation on all counts is so well rounded, so believable, that it draws you in to the plot. Why wouldn’t a part-time florist and sometimes plumber become a gigolo for his failed book seller friend? It’s put to the viewer in such a way that the situation seems highly possible. Woody Allen is, well, Woody Allen. He couldn’t have been anything else. Some of his lines are so Woody Allen they must have been ad libs.
The comedy in the movie plays out in both the situations, the clever dialogue and at times the madcap elements, which sit against the frailty of the human heart beautifully. The heart wants what the heart wants, despite money, despite race, despite religion. Turturro presents us with a gigolo confronted by unexpected tenderness in the light of his own personal isolation. The viewer can’t fail to be moved.