Commentary
5:00 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Turturro's 'Gigolo' Is Full Of Surprises

Woody Allen and John Turturro discuss the finer points of their profession in 'Fading Gigolo'

Fading Gigolo is a four-star movie, or almost, and a good deal different from what you might expect.

For one thing, Fading Gigolo is written and directed by John Turturro-- Woody Allen co-stars with Turturro , but neither writes nor directs. And while the premise is Allen promoting and managing Turturro's career a companion with privileges for lonely women, it is not particularly sexy.

Even Sharon Stone, as Turturro's first customer and a woman looking for a threesome, is not the single-minded sex shark you might expect. Vanessa Paradis, best known in the U.S. as Johnny Depp's old girlfriend, is the lonely widow who becomes the heroine, but her story is one of the many surprises I'm not going to reveal.

There is a very sensual massage scene, but it is not at all erotic. Writer-director Turturro has a real gift for handling material that could so easily go wrong but doesn't. Allen's incessant justifying of what he and Turturro are doing is amusing, but what we see going on supports him. Turturro is providing his clients with a lot more than you might expect, and in fact a good deal less of what you'd think.

This movie may require tolerance of things you might draw the line at. Liev Schreiber represents a kind of morality police force I am assured does exist-- though I have never heard of it-- with its own court system, its rather unconstitutional policemen, and its justification in the fact that nobody is required to pay attention to it unless they accept it as part of their religious system.

I'm being too mysterious about Fading Gigolo, but I refuse to give away all the things that make it surprising and satisfying-- the people I talked to after the show didn't want me to do that.