|FADING GIGOLO (director/writer: John Turturro; cinematographer: Marco Pontecorvo; editor: Simona Paggi; music: Abraham Laboriel/Bill Maxwell; cast: John Turturro (Fioravante), Woody Allen (Murray Schwartz), Vanessa Paradis (Avigal), Liev Schreiber (Dovi), Sharon Stone (Dr. Parker), Sofia Vergara (Selima), Bob Balaban (Sol), M’Barka Ben Taleb (Mimou, Tunisian singer), Jade Wilson (Cee Cee); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte/Bill Block/Paul Hanson; Millennium Entertainment; 2013)|
Woody at his kvetching worst."
by Dennis Schwartz
writer-director -actor John Turturro ("Illuminata"/"Mac"/"Passione")
wrote the screenplay especially for Brooklyn-born
Woody Allen, who takes a rare turn acting in a film he
doesn't direct. It's a midlife crisis experience film,
about an aging man fantasizing if he can still attract
the opposite sex. It has Woody in the unlikely role of
a pimp, while the usually awkward character actor
Turturro is in the unlikely role of a stud who gets a
thousand dollars for his Don Juan services.
premise comes about when going-out-business
sleazy rare books dealer Murray Schwartz's
(Woody Allen) married dermatologist, Dr. Parker
(Sharon Stone), tells her patient she would cough up a
thousand dollars to an experienced male
prostitute for a tumble in the hay and would doubles
the price for a ménage à trois with her
curvy best friend Selima
Murray takes one of his black live-in partner's
young boys to have Avigal (Vanessa
Paradis), the recent widow of an
Orthodox rabbi, with six children, to take the lice
out of his hair, the pushy pimp somehow introduces
Avigal to Fioravante. They
meet for massages and a cautious
non-sexual relationship is developing between the
two unhappy souls. But when the Williamsburg
Hasidic security man, Dovi (Liev), who is
nursing a long-time love for Avigal, suspiciously
follows her into Manhattan in his Hasidic patrol
car, he sniffs out trouble and in a jealous rage
brings secular Jew Murray in front of the
neighborhood Hasidic head rabbis to be reprimanded
for introducing the cloistered Avigal to a man who
might not even be Jewish.
The romantic comedy provides more bleakness than comedy, and it gets even worse when it tries to say something poignant about the ways of rigid Hasidic Jews and people who are lonely. Shallow might be the least disparaging thing one can say about such a disjointed oddball film, one that could make you squirm in the way it debased all its characters. Admittedly it could have been crasser, but because its screenplay was so lacking in scope it passed muster as merely a limited comedy venture that never should have been attempted. This is Woody at his kvetching worst.
REVIEWED ON 5/17/2014 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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