John Turturro is one of those actors that has appeared in a wide variety of genres and no matter where he pops up he always gives a brilliant performance despite the finished product. His latest film, Fading Gigolo has him both in front and behind the camera and bringing along an interesting cast with Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara, Liev Schreiber, and Vanessa Paradis. Could this eclectic group come together to create something unique and special or will it live up to its title literally and fade away?
Fading Gigolo follows a man who decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way of making money to help his cash-strapped friend, Murray. With Murray acting as his "manager", the duo quickly finds them caught up in the crosscurrents of love and money. There are so many love stories that make their way to film that are predictable and forgettable, but this one manages to bring something new to the table without trying to overcomplicate it. Turturro does a brilliant job as both director and actor to bring this story and community together. The story is simple enough allowing the real life nature to bring these characters to life as opposed to trying to force them into wacky moments. The comedy side of the story feels organic, letting the natural behavior of the characters make it funny as opposed to trying to create comedy. The use of the Jewish community added another level to the lives of these characters and their struggles in relationships and daily living. Turturro and Allen have great chemistry that is clearly a real friendship off screen hence it meshes well on screen. This is a rare appearance to see Allen do something that isn’t of his own creation, but it is no surprise that he is excellent. Most of the really funny moments come from Allen, especially when he is interacting with the children of his girlfriend. The rest of the cast did a great job with Stone and Vergara bringing the sex appeal to the needed to believe his role as a male gigolo. Vanessa Paradis is almost unrecognizable and brings a subtle approach to the tortured character she portrays with the most impact. It was great to see Live Schreiber playing against type with this role and although it’s not a huge part, it manages to be pretty important to the bigger picture of the story.
There are moments in this film that have little dialogue, but convey more emotion than a lot of performances out there. This is far from a silly comedy, but instead brings a unique take on romance with an average guy that makes the overall film more relatable and with Turturro at the wheel works on every level. This is a slower film, but that is because it relies on the performances and story as opposed to all the useless flash and trash of today’s cinema. Turturro has crafted a great film and once again showcases his brilliance as an actor and his eye as a filmmaker t5hat will hopefully get the recognition it deserves.