Perhaps Turturro’s shallow writing in Fading Gigolo is enabled by having too many friends in the business telling him his wacky script is clever or even plausible. I never felt a thing for any character, or had any sense of who these people were past being comic sets-ups for some clichéd idea about the bittersweet nature of true love. It careens aimlessly. Since his actors were reduced to lines that never sounded anything but scripted, I was both removed from the story and increasingly annoyed. Is it supposed to be funny that Jewish Woody Allen lives in a scroungy apartment with a black girlfriend? And why is he sounding like a Woody in a budget Woody Allen movie? And as a pimp? Ugh.
Turturro is charming and well meaning, which must have brought these actors on board, but the film reeks of a false “New York” ambience. The attempt to create a colorful cast of kooks is second rate compared to the terrific low budget New York movies made by a new generation of young filmmakers and the so-called ‘mumblecorps’ crew. (or Hal Hartley’s terrific no-budget film, Meanwhile). And despite the caveat in the script that, though Turturo’s's ‘character’ is not-so-good looking, he is still able to charm and pleasure the ladies, the fact is never demonstrated. Not that I want hot action, but some emotion or word from the ladies other than lip service and dewy eyes would help. This is a sadly pretentious art film.