I can’t say that there’s much to love in Fading Gigolo. Maybe it’s because I can’t relate. A quarter-life-crisis, sure, but not a midlife one. But to say that the movie is bad would be largely incorrect. The film, for the most part, is harmless. It’s a sex comedy for older men, but it doesn’t do much to offend. It even purposely keeps it classy by pervading lounge jazz in the background the entire time. In fact, there’s not a whole lot of silence in the film, now that I think of it.
Fading Gigolo stars John Turturro, who also writes and directs, as Fioravante, a florist who becomes strapped for cash and is counseled by his good friend, Murray (Woody Allen), into becoming a male prostitute while Murray manages him. Turturro plays his character as a man of few words, and Allen–well–plays a version of himself of course. This time, his normal insecure idiosyncrasies take on a slightly more sordid personality.
Narratively, it starts up quickly, but meanders a bit after the first 30 minutes or so. One of its biggest weaknesses is the dialogue, which is very stiff when any character besides Woody Allen is speaking. It’s not so much the verbiage, but the characters’ rote delivery of it. The banter between Turturro and anyone else (sans Allen) feels routine and phony. It’s actually painful at some points.
The highlight would have to be Woody, who provides us with the comic relief amongst otherwise arid characters. Not that they don’t have depth–they’re just all written as very laconic.
It takes some odd turns here and there, and doesn’t quite seem to know where it wants to end up. There are some brief touches of surrealism throughout which actually give the film much of its character.
But overall, it’s a movie that has a purpose. You have to commend it for trying to reach a certain audience–one that isn’t so often approached.