There are a couple of yawning implausibilities to surmount in Fading Gigolo, one being Woody Allen as a pimp with the nom commercial Dan Bongo. The other is the idea that a woman who looks like Sofia Vergara has to pay for sex.
If you can get past those dubious propositions, everything else in John Turturro's fanciful and fluffy comedy becomes easy to accept.
In addition to writing and directing, Turturro also stars in the film as Fioravante, a gentle, almost floral soul who is talked into stud-for-hire service by his old Brooklyn buddy Murray (Allen). Classy clientele, too, including Vergara and Sharon Stone.
This is a very New York film with a distinctly vintage atmosphere thanks to the sepia tint and cool jazz that plays throughout scenes - and sometimes over the dialogue.
The film bounces along with an eccentric buoyancy until it gets lost in a subplot about Hasidic Jews. This story slows the pace to a somber crawl, but it also occasions a pair of lovely performances: Vanessa Paradis as a rabbi's widow and Liev Schreiber as a neighborhood watch officer in Williamsburg who is keeping a moony eye on her.
The unlikely romance between Turturro and Paradis, though sweetly intentioned, is mawkish and miscalculated and shanghais a hitherto enjoyable movie.
But Fading Gigolo gets an extra star merely for showcasing the egg cream, the Brooklyn beverage that is the nectar of the gods. Shalom!