TIFF Review: 'Fading Gigolo'

I am all about the suspension of disbelief. But when you tell me that Sofia Vergara is hard up for male companionship to the point that she has to pay for it, and that male companion looks like John Turturro, and it's in a movie written and directed by John Turturro, well, there's just no way I can take that seriously. "Fading Gigolo" wants to be some sort of sunny tapestry about New York's social groups, but it's impossible to see past its absurd premise. It is among the most shameless vanity projects I've ever seen.

We open in the soon-to-be shuttered rare book shop owned by Woody Allen, doing his usual schtick but missing the zest of his own dialogue. He tells his buddy Turturro, a quiet mouth-breathing florist, of an odd conversation he had with his dermatologist (Sharon Stone.) She wants to have a threesome with her pal (Vergara) and is looking for the right man. Allen recommends his buddy, at a cost (and with Allen getting a percentage) and suddenly the near-mute Turturro is the new stud of New York.

Seemingly unrelated, one of Allen's adopted kids (he lives with a much younger African-American woman who has a brood of entertaining moppets) gets lice. Allen takes him to "the lice woman," an Orthodox widow halfway across the city played by Vanessa Paradis, who is being courted by Liev Schreiber, the local Hassidic policeman. After some further forced events, the stage is set for Turturro to reject the massive high rise duplexes of his well-heeled clients for the pure (and chaste) love of Paradis.

I gotta stop right here. Listen - I've lived in New York most of my life and I've gotta tell you, this is all a load of Big Apple Bullshit. None of these relationships rings the tiniest bit true. What's worse is how everyone is collapsing in swoons over John Turturro. It's not that I'm so against someone with an unconventional look getting lucky with the ladies, it's just that there's NOTHING in this character that explains why one day he would wake up with this power over women. There isn't even any low humor about his lovemaking prowess. He just stands there with that dopey look on his face and mumbles his lines.

There's a headfake that "Fading Gigolo" is going to take on the Orthodox community for its stone age treatment of women, but it doesn't have the guts. In the end we're to respect that a quorum of angry old men can call Vanessa Paradis a jezebel for letting a man see her hair in public, even though she wants him to and she's and she's an adult.

Turturro has a lot of friends in the industry so every other scene has an appearance by someone you love: Bob Balaban, Aida Turturro, David Margulies, Max Casella, Jill Scott, Michael Badalucca, to get specific. It's a shame none of them had the guts to tell him to not make this film.

SCORE: 2.0 / 10

Latest News