American Gigolo


Julian Kay (Richard Gere) is one of the best manwhores in L.A. But soon the unthinkable happens — a dead trick, for which he is blamed. Can he be saved?

American Gigolo is a blue bomb. Style and subject are wed, but there’s no bounce. A film that goes for the noir-like soap must deliver on both ends. A.G. is flat. It’s about a certain kind of fitness: the blonde leading the blonde — amorality — the vanity fair of window dressing. But life imitates “art.” I’m too hip to care.

The look is all. Dim bars of light and rich pastel denote the sadness of the jet set. By turning a mirror on the 1980s, A.G. is both stale and current. Being dated helps it to comment on the honest excess of wanton superficiality — for this or any other era. Paul Schrader, the writer-director, mourns the commodification of pleasure; how selflessness leads to selfishness, and vice versa. The film is about loneliness. Hot it’s not.

Just about everyone is a hedonoid, numb to the point of nonchalance. Gere is good. Despite the moped brow, he’s so placid it’s hard to see him any other way. The American gigolo is a loveless cipher, and Gere fits — a vincible, vulnerable cock.

Like Julian, Schrader is keen on style but uses too much distance. Had it been less cold and more fun, A.G. would have been wry. Here the end (rigor mortis gives way to sudden redemption) robs Julian of his tragedy. Unless we are led to read it as such, a swift resolution of plot is false.

The film needs more disco. Period.

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