If you sat down at Fading Gigolo without knowing anything about it, youd no doubt think you were watching a new Woody Allen movie. Its all about love and sex and insecurity and jealousy; theres jazz spinning through the soundtrack; men and women tend not to understand each others motivations; and one of the lead characters is an older, very talkative Jewish fellow from Brooklyn whos, by the way, played by Woody Allen.

But this was written and directed by, and co-stars John Turturro, who is no doubt a big fan of Allen. No, this is not a Woody rip-off. Turturro manages to get his own creative voice in there, playing a likeable if confused character who just cant figure out how to play the cards that life has dealt him.

Hes Fioravante, a nice guy whos eking by as a part-timer at a flower shop. His best friend is Murray (Allen), who has just been forced to shut down his once successful book shop. Murray is a family man, but Fioravante is alone. Both men are a bit lost, both are trying to figure out what to do next.

What they come up with sounds, at first, pretty far-fetched. Murrays wealthy, married dermatologist, Dr. Parker (Sharon Stone) casually mentions shed like to try a three-way. Business-minded Murray thinks he might be able to set something up, for a lot of money, and feels that Fioravante might be the right guy to get involved in this business. Murray is a man with amoral tendencies, and he hatches a plan to become his lonely pals pimp. The three-way goes by the wayside, but Murray finds that a lot of women who happen to have a lot of cash are interested in a safe little fling with an OK-looking, energetic nice guy. Never mind that Fioravante has no self-esteem, and doesnt even think hes attractive.

But while that story gets cooking, another one begins, again with Murray at the center. He needs some assistance from his late rabbis beautiful, deeply religious, and still-grieving young wife Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), a woman who, its said by others in the neighborhood, hasnt smiled in the two years her husband has been gone. Maybe, suggests Murray some massage therapy would help, and maybe Fioravante is the guy to provide it.

Dont bother trying to figure out where all of this is going, because while the pimping business grows and the money starts flowing in, and while Avigal considers taking that advice, the action goes back to Dr. Parker, who has told her excitable friend Selima (Sofia Vergara) about her time spent with the stud shes been hiring. This news, wouldnt you know, interests Selima.

But even that story doesnt get to develop much before another plot strand is introduced, one about Dovi (Liev Schreiber), the Chassidic leader of the local neighborhood patrol who is becoming concerned that Avigal has started leaving her house, is dressing more fashionably, and is smiling as she travels somewhere with an odd little man named Murray.

This is a sweet and funny film with some serious issues going on at its core, a couple of almost surreal and ridiculous moments about a Jewish trial, and a few really moving scenes that ring true concerning human nature. Its aimed at a sophisticated adult audience who will understand that the characters are all good people and are all worth caring about. There are wonderful performances by everyone, with Allen, Schreiber, and the French actress Paradis standing out. Turturro turns in a typically fine role with his Fioravante, but its his script and direction that should really be noted. The script doesnt reveal much of whats going on behind closed doors, leaving us to wonder about much of that. And Turturro likes to let cameras linger on peoples faces, in those cases letting us wonder what theyre thinking about.

It turns out to be a very romantic film featuring all sorts of lonely people who are keeping their hopes alive. A very nice move on Turturros part is that he gives it a gentle ending that closes off a couple of stories while, at the last moment, opening up another one.

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.

Written and directed by John Turturro
With John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Live Schreiber, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara
Rated R