Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Fading Gigolo

John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo is a delightfully comfortable comedy. Despite its subject matter, the film has a quaint charm that is difficult to resist.

With his bookshop failing, Murray spies an opportunity in pimping out his friend Fioravante. As Fioravante receives a glowing recommendation from one of Murray’s acquaintances, the bookshop owner starts to look for more clients…

Written, directed by and starring John Turturro, Fading Gigolo is has an undeniable sense of charm. The film has the unmistakable mark of Woody Allen all over it. This is present not least in the performance of the filmmaker himself.

There is something wonderfully nostalgic about the film. It feels as if Fading Gigolo could have been made twenty years ago. The New York setting feels marvellously outdated, shot in warm sepia tones. The choice of soundtrack add to this distinct lack of modernity.

The premise of the film suggests a contemporary film, despite the employed adage of the ‘the oldest profession on Earth’. Fading Gigolo could have easily been a lewd comedy. Yet Turturro choses to eschew this angle, and instead to focus on the characters and a sense of romance. The audience is invited to view very little of what Fioravante does to earn his money, with only the satisfaction of his clients pointing to the fact that he is good and what he does. The film feels more sincere for its focus on dialogue and character development.

Turturro’s script is excellent. Humour is rapid but light; a style which works successfully. Characters are given enough depth to appear realistic, whilst also maintaining the light touch. There are some great exchanges, with a religion-based sequence a highlight.

John Turturro delivers a believable performance as the initially reluctant Fioravante. It is Woody Allen who steals the show, with a quintessential performance which is headily reminiscent of some of his brightest roles. Vanessa Paradis and Liev Schreiber are also good.

Fading Gigolo is a must-see movie for both fans of Woody Allen and decent scriptwriting overall.

Film Review: Heartbreaker

Deception and surveillance are the order of the day in this enjoyable French rom-com. In the mould of Hollywood films in this genre, Heartbreaker is not groundbreaking, but it is a lot of fun.

Alex has made a career of making women fall in love with him, in order for them to leave their unhappy relationships. When he is commissioned with breaking up the relationship of soon-to-be married Juliette, he gets more than he bargained for…

The concept of the film is fun but not really original at all. However, the execution of the premise works well, better in fact than films such as Failure to Launch. Heartbreaker references some of its influences; this self-reflexivity is effective in suggesting to the audience that the filmmakers are aware that this isn’t the most original of films.

Romain Duris is charming and charismatic as Alex, whilst Vanessa Paradis is appropriately contained and controlled as Juliette.  François Damiens and Julie Ferrier perform well as husband and wife team Marc and Melanie – their characters providing much of the film’s humour.

Though Heartbreaker sometimes descends into the incredulous, it works well as a popcorn flick. The beautiful Monte Carlo backdrop matches the fantasy of the story, and makes the film a pleasant slice of escapism.