Fioravante (John Turturro) is a florist whose life – and career – takes a surprising turn when his friend, Murray (Woody Allen), talks him into becoming a male escort. Murray’s dermatologist (Sharon Stone) has always dreamed on having a threesome and will pay handsomely for first having an individual session and afterwards bringing in her friend (Sofia Vergara).
Then Murray decides to expand the ‘business’, by hiring Fioravante as a ‘healer’ to the widowed Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), whose been living a hidden, buttoned down Orthodox Jewish life, kept in check by the overzealous neighbourhood patrol. To his own surprise, Fioravante start to have feelings for her.
John Turturro doesn’t just star, but also writes and directs, and perhaps that’s the problem. It joins the surprisingly long list of movies where someone has cast themselves in their film as someone who’s experienced, sexy and a great lover, and like many of those films it becomes a battle between the needs of the character and ego of the actor. The movie does nod to the idea that Turturro might not be everyone’s idea of a sex god, but then quickly becomes more interested in what a stud he is, and romantic too – plus women as beautiful as Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara want to pay to have sex with him (as if they couldn’t have a threesome for free if they wanted one)!
The result is that it never quite finds the truth of the character, as you can feel Turturro himself poking through. He’d have been far better casting someone else in the role. The same is true of Woody Allen, purely because it invites comparisons to Woody’s own slices of New York life and it doesn’t come off well.
While a normal guy becoming an escort is the film’s hook, nothing about it rings true. The story involving Avigal meanwhile has plenty of potential, but gets so wrapped up in the nonsense around it that it doesn’t work. But above all that, it can’t escape a feeling of being far too inconsequential for its own good, partly because it buries every good idea it has.
Overall Verdict: Despite a few good ideas, Fading Gigolo does little with them and suffers from Turturro not knowing whether he wants to send himself up or tell the world he’s a sex god.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac