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Trailer: Fading Gigolo

Fioravante decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way of making money to help his cash-strapped friend, Murray.

PT2M30S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35jmw 620 349

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Reader rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (64 votes)

In Fading Gigolo, John Turturro plays Fioravante, a measured, mature Manhattanite who lives alone and works as a florist's arranger and a bookstore clerk. When the latter business closes, his friend and boss, Murray (Woody Allen), casually suggests to Fioravante that he take up an offer from Murray's dermatologist, who is neglected by her husband and desires a male gigolo. Fioravante soon agrees, and finds himself knocking on the door of the dermatologist, Dr Parker (Sharon Stone).

Initially nervous, but soon satiated, Dr Parker immediately suggests that Fioravante must be paid to have a threesome with the dermatologist and her best friend, Selima (Sofia Vergara).

The film flounders in the middle ground between Allen's classic style and mainstream rom-com.

John Turturro and Woody Allen in Fading Gigolo. Photo: Transmission Films

That's Turturro, Stone and Vergara. Did I mention that Turturro also wrote and directed the movie? It's difficult not to query his intentions, as the 57-year-old, best known for playing eccentric or sometimes comically loopy characters for the likes of the Coen brothers, has made such a slight and increasingly unsatisfying movie.

Fading Gigolo has moments of whimsy and specks of philosophical consideration, but if it treats Fioravante with seriousness, you have to question what merits you doing the same. This is the veteran actor's fifth film as a director and, worryingly, it may be the most formless. ''I am not a beautiful man,'' his character observes, and the idea that it could be about how a man who doesn't value his looks responds to desire and a $2500 fee is an interesting one, but any wisdom mainly consists of soulful foreign-language sayings that are a step up from a good calendar when they are presented without accompaniment.

There is simple pleasure in watching Turturro mix it up with Allen, whose Murray is typically Allen with some money difficulties and an unexpected family. Hearing him riff about his mortality is not exactly a revelation in 2014. Murray does find an unlikely client, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi's widow named Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), who just wants someone to talk to, but her tenuous relationship with Fioravante is soon upstaged by the attentions of Dovi (Liev Schreiber), an obsessive Orthodox community patrolman who kidnaps Murray for a rabbinical trial.

At one point Fioravante notes that he ''no longer'' has family, but there is no further clarification and the role never becomes a fully fledged character. You are left with the feeling that Turturro just wanted to be a leading man for once.