FADING GIGOLO (M)
Directed by John Turturro
Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett
I can't call Fading Gigolo a good film.
There is too much silliness, too much left unexplained, unexamined, unfinished.
And yet, this is a sweet, idiosyncratic, and at times enormously likeable film, which I found myself grinning and chuckling along with, perhaps in much the same way as you would while listening to an old friend, perhaps not the pub's greatest raconteur, as he relates to you a shaggy dog tale of the most endearing pointlessness and charm.
John Turturro, who has also written and directed, is a sweet and amiable schlub from - where else - Brooklyn, New York.
His friend Murray (Woody Allen, in a role Turturro has written specifically for him) runs a bookshop.
Everyone, because this is a small film, and wealthy actors making small films routinely mistake poverty for some indefinable 'authenticity', is broke.
But a small measure of financial salvation is at hand in the person of Sharon Stone, who is Murray's dermatologist, and who just happens to mention that she and her girlfriend are interested in a threesome, and would Murray know of anyone who might be suitable to make up the numbers for a fee?
Murray suggests his pal Fioravante (Turturro), and a male hooker is born. (The tremendous unlikeliness of Sharon Stone asking Woody Allen if he has a friend available for sexual favours is just one of many barkingly silly moments that Turturro's screenplay blithely presents with an utterly straight face) And from there, a gentle farce, a very New York story, and a love story of the deftest whimsy play out.
Turturro can be the least showy of actors, and he's wonderful here.
Allen is less irritating than he has been in years.
While Stone, Sofia Vergara, Liev Schreiber, and the much underrated Vanessa Paradis are all perfectly pitched and quietly excellent.
Is Fading Gigolo a 'good' film? No. But it is a film I liked very much indeed.