"Fading Gigolo" is a disappointing film that tries to be everything at once, and emerges as nothing memorable at all.
Woody Allen plays Murray, the owner of a bookstore, who desperately needs money to save his business. His plan? Sell his florist friend, Fioravante (John Turturro), who Murray claims has "always done well with women" as a male prostitute to local lonely ladies. Fioravante turns out to be a natural and his reputation and workload grows until he, predictably, starts to fall for one of customers.
The big problem is that Fioravante doesn't seemlike a gigolo. That's kind of the film's point — that a normal, everyday man could double as a male prostitute — but it's simply too ridiculous to work. It is all but impossible to believe that Fioravante is as sexy, charming and magnetic as he's supposed to be. Sure, he's tall and speaks a few languages with smooth confidence, but Turturro isn't even close to being as appealing as everyone in the film acts like he is.
Apart from building around a ludicrous premise, the film feels unfinished, as if it were rushed or put on a studio's backburner. There are virtually no character introductions, none of the relationships feel fully explored and the story itself wraps up in an unsatisfying way. Everything about "Fading Gigolo" falls flat.
Woody Allen, while not onscreen as often as trailers suggest, still emerges as the single highpoint of the film. His character's lines aren't very funny or particularly interesting, but he makes the most of what he's given and delivers his lines in that classic Woody Allen fashion that makes everything sound at least worthy of a smile.
The soundtrack is as much a character as anyone else in "Fading Gigolo." Nearly every scene is set to blaring jazz music. To some, this could seem charming, but I found it assaulting and often far too loud.
The film fizzles out by the end without ever figuring out what genre it wants to be. It's not exactly a comedy, not exactly a romantic drama. It's not exactly anything, except bad.
"Fading Gigolo" isn't a terrible film, but it's a highly forgettable and lackluster one, and that fate might actually be worse.
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