Friday, June 6, 2014

Movie Review: "Fading Gigolo" (2014)

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Movie"Fading Gigolo"
Director: John Turturro
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Fioravante (John Turturro) is a part-time florist who is struggling to make a living. His best friend Murray (Woody Allen) owns a book store that, in the digital age, is going out of business. Both men are desperate to earn some cash, so Murray comes up with the idea of having his buddy Fioravante become a gigolo. Though Fioravante is not the most handsome man, he does have quite a way with women. Reluctant at first but in need of money, he accepts Murray’s proposal. Murray becomes his manager and sets him up on dates with women in need of some company. Fioravante takes to the job quite well and becomes a very in-demand gigolo. Eventually, Murray sets Fioravante up with an orthodox Jewish widow who is not looking for physical companionship. She finds what she needs in Fioravante, though he becomes quickly infatuated with her, throwing a wrench in his gigolo business.

For the record, I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Woody Allen Fan Club.

While the plot of this movie is obviously ludicrous, sort of a mess, and definitely over-the-top, it does have its moments sprinkled throughout the movie. It's an interesting look into the customs of Hassidic Jews and the standard mourning practices of a widow. The fact that Avigal (Vanessa Paradis) had to wear a wig to cover her hair because the customs dictate that she had to have her hair covered is something we were unaware of. Whoever heard of Laws of Modesty, anyway? This is 'Murica!!

Some might go as far as calling this movie a bit racist or stereotypical or maybe even sexist, but it's mildly entertaining and somewhat interesting, regardless. I think the problem is that it often seems like a parody of itself with the constant barrage of all things Orthodox. It's not a spectacular movie, but I thought John Turturro did a good job in this. He is an unconventional gigolo who offers more than just physical attraction. The women he finds himself pleasing aren't always looking for something sexual; sometimes, they just want companionship, and Fioravante has the uncanny ability to give that to them. I'm probably in the minority of people who think he would be a sexy gigolo, but that's for another time. Woody Allen is Woody Allen, the same character he always plays, and yet when paired with Turturro, he manages to not be a neurotic and annoying as he usually is. In reality, does Sofia Vergara really need to pay a gigolo to have sex with her? Nah, probably not. Sharon Stone is still acting...who knew? Liev Schreiber is great as the suspicious, overbearingly prying Shomrim official Dovi, who is in love with Avigal.

The ending was sort of a stretch in a weird direction, do Jewish tribunals really happen?? If they do, again, it's so far out of our realm of us knowing about it that we thought it was fake. I actually like the way the movie ended, but there were a couple of unanswered questions I found myself not really caring enough to have answered. Again, not the best movie, but decent, and one to see if you like unconventionality.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 54%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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