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TIFF 2013 Review: Fading Gigolo


Fading Gigolo
Special Presentation

Wouldn’t it be funny if Woody Allen and John Tuturro played Jewish bookstore owners who, jaded by their stack of paperbacks, turn to prostitution for some shekels? Tuturro, born in Brooklyn himself, would write and direct with real bravado! He’d make it damn funny and heartfelt, and never fail to capture the sprawling, magical nature of New York City.

That’s the expectation. The reality is Fading Gigolo, only met by the expectation that it’s directed by the same Barton Fink personage, is a “comedy” so ill-defined, tired, and in all sums ineffective that you’d think that’s why the Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1957, if it were a ‘50s period piece that is. But no: it’s as dull as it is current.

The film fails to capture the foolhardy nature of Fiovante’s (Tuturro) abrupt stint as gigolo “Virgil Howard” for some seriously sensuous company (Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara), mainly due to vague motivations that Tuturro repels with a blank, genteel demeanor.

He opts for romance with Avigal (the nearly unwatchable Vanessa Paradis), an orthodox Jewish widow whose pedestrian personality wins Fiovante’s heart, and our ten-dollar tickets too. Allen, plays Fiovante’s coworker Murray, but he’s just neurotic schtick under the name “Dan Bongo” (did Allen do this film while on lunch break from Blue Jasmine?).

The film wavers in tone, vying for a haphazard mixture of dainty lark and poignant adult dramedy. As both – it effortlessly fails. Contrived and matzoh-thin, Fading Gigolo is an exercise in our fading interests.

September 15 @ 12:45pm – Scotiabank Theatre

[star v=15]