Picks and Pans Review: American Gigolo

Director Paul Schrader has always had a fascination for the world of sleaze. Last time out he explored the sexual exploitation of females in Hardcore, so perhaps it’s the concept of equal time that made him turn to men. (Indeed, in this film he has even included a furtive shot of male frontal nudity, a rarity for mainstream movies in chauvinist Hollywood.) There is nothing tacky about the milieu of gigolo hero Richard Gere, though. He is clothed by Giorgio Armani, fed in L.A.’s chichi Polo Lounge and driven about in a fleet of limos. All this is lovingly framed and photographed by cinematographer John Bailey (a cameraman on Days of Heaven). The heretofore gifted Gere, who took over the role when John Travolta dropped out, seems unable to act his way out of a Vuitton bag this time, but it is not crucial—he looks spectacular. Supermodel Lauren Hutton, on the other hand, appears a trifle worn, but she performs well. Theirs is a love story set in a big-money, murder-mystery format that seems both unlikely and plodding. Nobody is going very far. But what slides of the trip! (R)

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