Kind of an odd movie. It was written and directed by, and stars John Turturro, for once not playing a creepy guy, and co-stars Woody Allen, in one of his few roles in a movie he didn’t write and direct. Through circumstances too ridiculous to describe, Turturro becomes a high-priced gigolo, and Woody is his pimp. We are asked to believe that really, really rich women (there is a four-story climbing wall in Sharon Stone’s apartment!) would pay a couple of grand to be made love to by this man who admits he’s not very handsome, not very young. Yes, he appears to have a gentle touch, but really, now.
Anyway, through circumstances I didn’t really understand, he becomes a masseur for a lonely orthodox Jewish woman, Vanessa Paradis. She hasn’t been touched by an adult since her husband died. The two fall in love. But this is orthodox Judaism, which I totally detest. Before you accuse me of anti-Semitism, let me add that I detest all rigid orthodoxy, in Amish, Muslim, Mormon, or other Christian sects. These tight little communities stultify their members, with their rigid rules (usually aimed at restricting women from doing anything at all) and their insistence on marrying within the cult, and their practices of shunning, excommunication, or even stoning to death of those who stray. I was hoping their Romeo and Juliet love could last, but alas, this is the real world (sort of), and in the end she dutifully goes back to the Shomrim officer, Liev Schreiber, who has loved her since they were children. (Shomrim is an unarmed Jewish neighborhood patrol in Hasidic communities.)
I can’t precisely recommend this, and yet I won’t condemn it, either. There are some great moments. It just didn’t seem to come together in a coherent way. But then, life often doesn’t, does it?