If US comedian Rob Schneider works too hard to get a laugh in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (2000), then British writer/actor Sacha Tarter is as laidback as the clientele in The Gigolo. It's a downright lethargic, generally laugh-free trawl through London's Mayfair where Tarter plies his trade as a veteran of the game. The funniest thing about the film is the theory that mature, intelligent women would pay for the company of a man who makes Schneider seem entertaining.
Making his big screen debut, Richard Bracewell directs the story as though it were a Merchant Ivory melodrama. His spiritually compromised hero drifts around like a ghost - with about as much substance - and his shady dealings are made almost impenetrably dark by the obvious lack of a lighting budget. It only starts to get interesting around halfway through when Sacha (Tarter suspiciously bestows his own name on the character) watches his protégé Trevor (Trevor Sather) supersede him and begins to question his life choices.
"A COUPLE OF AMUSING MOMENTS"
Unfortunately it's too little too late. For a gigolo that's perhaps preferable to being too little and too early, but the end result is unsatisfying in any case. The tragedy of Sacha's loveless lifestyle and the revelation of his emotional neediness should be a poignant undertone to the comedy, but the gags are so deadpan they end up needing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Sather has a couple of amusing moments as the bumbling ladies' man (furiously scribbling notes on how to exude a relaxed air), but overall what we're left with is a very limp portrait of manhood.
The Gigolos is released in UK cinemas on Friday 23rd March 2007.