Where John Turturro is present in a movie, I usually find myself perplexed by the role he manages to play. Inevitably, it appears to be so out of sync with the film, yet entierly appropriate too (Transformers: Dark of the Moon comes to mind). Fading Gigolo, which Turturro also directed, is no exception. The odd nature of the film does not deter from the strong underlying tones of foreign love and hard-wired traditions, which drive this 2013 comedy drama.
While the film in itself is no masterpiece, Turturro’s scripting provides the essential comical element, involving the likes of Woody Allen and Turturro himself. It suits both actors strangely, yet beautifully in the story that’s being told here. In the film, Murray (Woody Allen) seeks out the services of his close friend, Fiorvante (John Tutorro) who soon becomes Murray’s male prostitute and finds himself in a complex dilemma integrating the issues of love in prostitution and the question of taboo intimacy in a culture unwilling to change.
With both the support of Allen and Turturro’s acting, the film finds itself not only capable of relating to a contemporary audience but also providing a plausible setting giving the film a sense of realism. While none of the acting is award-worthy, the aging energetic character of Murray and the coy, seductive nature of Fiorvante keep the film in motion and the audience oddly captivated (that is, if male prostitution is something that interests you).
So the question remains: what is this film truly addressing? With its comical aftertaste and witty scripting, Turtorro admirably succeeds in bringing to the audience the cliché of tradition versus love. Except this time, instead of two rival families and an intense love affair resulting in poison and death, the audience is confronted with male-centric Jewish tradition and the love of a prostitute. While this applies a fresh setting to an age-old theme, it remains, nevertheless, a cliché.
No surprises should be reserved for a film surrounding such motifs. For a film surrounding the controversial issue of male prostitution, sexual content is to be expected. Thankfully it doesn’t come in abundance but it does leave the audience rather bewildered. While, these scenes may add to the comical elements of the film, Turtorro maintains his consistency in portraying a sense of realism to the human brokenness prevalent in the film’s atmosphere. As Avigal (played by Sharon Stone) says to Fiorvante, “You bring magic to the lonely.”
John Turtorro’s, Fading Gigolo, would likely rank amongst the likes of A Serious Man, where comedy is prevalent but stronger motifs that surround society echo in the script. The film is far from a masterpiece but is adequately directed and worth watching for anyone interested in the issues it addresses. No other words can summarise this motion picture more eloquently than Murray’s words to Fiorvante, “You’re disgusting in a very positive way.”