The fifth film directed by John Turturro, Fading Gigolo leaves the world of music behind for a hymn to New York, in the Jewish neighbourhood of Williamsburg, where Murray (Allen, at his handwringing best) is forced to close his bookstore and push part-time Italian American florist Fioravante (Turturro) into secondary employment as a male escort. As Murray pimps his longstanding friend out to New York’s bold and beautiful, including his eager-for-a-threesome dermatologist (Stone), Fioravante finds and falls in love with devout wallflower Avigal (Paradis), still mourning for her dead husband after two years. Posing as a masseur, he brings her back to life with his healing touch, but despite his love for her, the eternal bachelor Fioravante is cast aside – reduced for the women he meets to a simple conduit, so that they may find fulfillment and love. Despite good performances all round, the film is over-sugared, sentimental and mawkish. But New York is the undoubted leading lady – a playground city of brownstones and brotherly love, where black and Jewish boys play baseball together in Central Park – as Turturro turns Manhattan into his own isle of joy.
Fading Gigolo | Directed by John Turturro (USA 2013) with John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis. Starts November 6.
Originally published in issue #132, November 2014.