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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Movie Review - Fading Gigolo

Fading Gigolo (2014)
Starring John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schrieber, Sharon Stone, and Sofía Vergara
Directed by John Turturro
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Fading Gigolo works best when Woody Allen and John Turturro play off each other with Allen's typical neuroses and Turturro's serious tone juxtaposing surprisingly amusingly.  Whenever their two characters are separated, however, screenwriter-director Turturro's film lags with a romance that never really blossoms to anything captivating.

Woody Allen is Woody Allen -- oh no, wait...he's Murray (who is really just Woody Allen), an aging guy whose used book store is being forced to shut down.  Desperate for money, Murray -- after visiting his dermatologist Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) -- spitballs the idea of his single buddy Fioravante (Turturro) sleeping with his skin doctor who mentioned that she and her single friend Selina (Sofía Vergara) were interested in having a threesome.  Fiorvante balks at the notion, but then acquiesces, although Dr. Parker wants to "try him for herself" first.  Fioravante discovers that he doesn't mind sleeping with women for money and Murray enjoys the commission he's receiving for setting Fioravante up with the ladies.

In and of itself, the storyline above is at least amusing.  However, Fading Gigolo tries for heart and attempts to achieve that when Murray takes one of his girlfriend's lice-stricken kids to see Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), the widow of an Hassidic rabbi, for treatment.  Avigal is in pain (both physical and emotional) and Murray convinces her to come and see Fioravante whom Murray says is a massage therapist.  Fioravante almost immediately has a connection with Avigal and the two begin a relationship that doesn't exactly go over well with Avigal's Jewish neighbors.

Unfortunately, the whole Avigal story -- which is really the bulk of the movie -- falls flat.  Avigal as a character is emotionally stilted and quite blasé.  While that's no fault of Vanessa Paradis' portrayal, the lack of vigor in her character brings the film to a halt whenever she's onscreen.  I never really believed the connection between Avigal and Fioravante either which I think is important to latch onto in order to care about the proceedings.  The Murray-Fioravante teaming was amusing, but the rest of Fading Gigolo lacks oomph.

The RyMickey Rating:  C-

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