Turturro plays Fioravante, something like "forward flower" or "flower first" in Italian, and he runs a floundering flower shop. Symbolism alert! What do flowers stand for?
|John Turturro as Fioravante, florist and gigolo|
in his own movie Fading Gigolo.
Turturro cast his buddy, Woody Allen, in the role of Fioravante's pimp, Murray. After his bookstore goes bust, Murray gets the idea of turning his old pal into a gigolo. This is the perfect role for Allen: Murray is greedy and manipulative, yet he is philosophical, caring, and strangely tender. Allen flows from wisecracks to phobias, and on to gentle coaching and nurturing, so naturally that he seems to be making his lines up as he goes along; he appears to be the character he is portraying. And maybe he is. You could say that as a filmmaker, Allen pimps out the actors he likes, nurtures their talent for the sake of his own gain.
|Woody Allen as Murray, pimp, buddy, coach|
|Sharon Stone as Dr. Parker and Sofía Vergara as Selima|
|Murray with Othella's four children|
The lice lady, Avigal, played delicately by French pop singer and actress Vanessa Paradis, is the widow of a rabbi of the Hasidic sect. She is the total opposite of the sensual Dr. Parker. She lives under the strict customs for widows. Her hair is always covered, she wears black, she is devout. She is the mother of six children, but she lives in a private bubble of sorrow.
|Venessa Paradis as the lice lady, Avigal|
This is an iPad shot off my computer screen
And now we have a love story. Once Avigal experiences emotional release, she begins to open up. She even ventures to connect with Fioravante on her own, not for sex, but once for a kosher meal and once for a walk in the park, like a regular romance, with sets and photography straight out of an Impressionist painting. The romance is intercut with gently funny scenes of Woody, that is, Murray, teaching the four black kids and the six Jewish kids to play baseball, taking care to mix the teams.
Why did the filmmaker sandwich these two very different stories together? It enabled him to show women at the opposite ends of the spectrum of sensuality, and thereby to indicate the universal need for passion, for contact, for tenderness—and for understanding—whether or not sex is part of the bargain.
It also enabled him to paint a positive picture of prostitution. Do you have a knee-jerk reaction that whores are damaged and calloused, greedy and manipulative? Do you assume they are beneath respect? Turturro posits that some sex workers are nice people who try to give a little more than sex. Murray coaches Fioravante something like this: "Don't think of it as a commercial venture. These women need to have a boost to their self-esteem. They need to feel good about themselves." Later, Avigal says that Fioravante "brings magic to the lonely."
|Fioravante removes Avigal's wig|
iPad shot from a computer screen
If The Interview is a buddy movie for the meathead mentality, Fading Gigolo may be called a buddy movie for intellectuals. John Turturro created the perfect role for his old buddy Woody Allen, and he made a film that is very much like Allen's work, complete with tribute to New York City, tasteful jazz score, and artfully composed shots. I could just see the two of them strolling around the city together, eating bagels, drinking Grey Goose, and trading funny bits for the script.
|Turturro and Allen, buddies|