Free Press Journal

Fading Gigolo: Stirring sex romp


Fading Gigolo   Cast: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sofia Vergara Directed by John Turturro

Talky with a smouldering music score (the credits end with a song by Johnny Depp’s ex Vanessa Paradis in a plum role as an OrthodOx Jewish widow) this sex comedy is vintage woody Allen. Except that it’s not Woody Allen who writes/directs “Fading Gigolo” but John Turturro, he of the under-appreciated talent, who shines in the title role. Turturro’s screen character is called Fioravante, a name that is as suspect as his celluloid Jewishness. A lover of nature and reading, he works as a lowlypaid florist who keeps spectacular book-shelves. While they make him interesting, neither of his passions can rake in moolah for his bookstore owner buddy, Murray (Allen, endearing )Schwartz who smooth talks him into becoming a  Don Juan servicing such ‘unfulfilled’ ladies as the aforementioned straitlaced Jewess, his lesbian dermatologist, Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone),her best gal pal,a Tunisian named Selima (Vergara, sizzling) and  the aforementioned straitlaced Jewess Avigal who has yet to experience intimacy despite bearing six children for her deceased Hasidic rabbi husband. All three women are a study in contrasts, but it is the steamy Selima who  flaunts cleavage, Jimmy Choo shoes and fake eyelashes to serve as a mouthpiece for male fantasies of Woman as Object. We hate to bring this to your notice but soft porn has crept into mainline Hollywood fare. A minor character in the film (a lawyer if you please) declares “filthy is exciting.” Really? Does carnal knowledge have to be dinned into our heads/senses? Sadly, as in several other films, certain acts are passed off as entirely natural when any good doctor will attest to their unhealthy, deletrious effects.

As in other films from the Allen stable, ‘Fading Gigolo’ touts the ‘positive’ aspects of the oldest profession in the world. Men are said to sometimes frequent whorehouses to assuage loneliness among other things. Ho hum. How spectacularly unimaginative of men, the poor dears. For the poor widow though ,an Inquisition awaits at a panel of serious old men,concerned about her immortal soul.

But everyone deserves to be happy and the sucker for happy endings that I am, I am gratified that Dovi (Liev Schreiber) childhood friend of Avigal, wins her heart. And that the sensitive gigolo mentored by the funny pimp, eventually learns that relationships (and sex) are sacred.