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‘Fading Gigolo’

by Giovanni Fazio

John Turturro is a fine actor, and can certainly do comedy when he wants to — he stole the show with the briefest of cameos in “The Big Lebowski” (1998) — so it’s hard to figure out what went wrong with “Fading Gigolo,” which he also directed.

It’s a low-key sex comedy set in New York City, based on a very flimsy premise: Bookstore owner Murray (Woody Allen) hears an off-the-cuff remark from his cougar dermatologist (Sharon Stone) that she and her lesbian lover are looking for a guy to have a menage a trois with. On the verge of bankruptcy, Murray suggests they use a professional, and recommends his part-time employee, Floravante (Turturro), who’s surprised to learn that he’s being pimped. The money is fine, though, and so are the women, so he goes along — until he meets Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), a grieving widow from a Hasidic community.

Allen is on autopilot, using riffs you’ve already heard many times over in his own scripts and interviews, but even worse is Turturro, who downplays his character to the point of having almost no discernible personality. The result is a charming but bland New York story; had Julie Delpy directed, she would have hit it out of the park.