Starring: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Sharon Stone.
Rating: R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity.
In "Fading Gigolo," Fioravante (Mr. Turturro) is a financially strapped New Yorker whose avuncular friend Murray (Woody Allen) suggests he fulfill the desire of a dermatologist and her female friend to experience a menage a trois. Murray had joked to the doc that he knew someone who would step up to the plate, so to speak, for $1,000 -- a fee the men would split, of course.
The two join financial forces as unlikely pimp and prostitute even though Fioravante acknowledges, "I am not a beautiful man." Mick Jagger isn't a conventionally beautiful man but he is hot, Murray counters as Fioravante finds he has a natural talent for satisfying women, in or out of the bedroom.
"Fading Gigolo" introduces the wealthy physician (Sharon Stone) and her adventuresome friend (Sofia Vergara). Fioravante, who works in a flower shop, has a vastly different sort of relationship with an Orthodox Jewish widow (Vanessa Paradis) who is bound by rules of modesty and restraint foreign to the others.
It's their tender relationship that resonates the most while the rest veers all over the place in comedic tone and content, especially when a Jewish neighborhood patrol and elders suspect some funny business is going on. "Money laundering? Organ trafficking?" one wonders.
And there is some funny, ha-ha business, as Murray is confronted by strangers and asks, "What'd I do? Break the dietary laws?" Mr. Allen, in an increasingly rare acting gig, proves his comic delivery is still impeccable at 78.
Mr. Turturro wrote and directed "Fading Gigolo" and assembled an accomplished, eclectic cast. It's his fifth time directing, after "Passione," "Romance & Cigarettes," "Illuminata" and "Mac."
In some ways, it seems like a zany throwback and, in others, an R-rated, modern meditation on intimacy, loneliness, oddball connections, sexuality, unconventional beauty and how women think.
"Do you have any idea what goes on inside a woman's head?" Ms. Vergara asks. "A woman is meant to be looked at, or else she will just fade away." It's unlikely she will ever fade away, but neither, it turns out, may the man staring from across the room.
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