Sunday 12 December 2010

From the archive: "The Gigolos"

The best new movies presently on release weren't even made in the past twelve months. Last week we had Andrew Bujalski's Funny Ha Ha, completed in 2002 and remaining remarkably fresh despite sitting on the shelf for all that time; this week, we have The Gigolos, a disarming debut from co-writer/director Richard Bracewell, completed in 2004. This comedy-drama centres on a small business operating out of the Park Lane/Mayfair area. Male escort Sacha (Sacha Tarter) and his pimp Trevor (Trevor Sather) spend their days and nights arranging dinner, dancing, drinks and other after-dark activities for high-class women like the Duchess of Cirencester, but Bracewell keeps subverting the viewer's expectations, steering matters away from the lurid details of these paid-for couplings ("it's not really to do with 'downstairs'", as Sacha puts it) - though Anna Massey, Susannah York and Sian Phillips come through with vivid characterisations in what amount to cameos.

No, the emphasis rests on a well-written and well-played male relationship that is amusingly and touchingly dependent, never more so than when the well-groomed, garrulous Sacha breaks his foot in a workplace accident and has to coach the dowdy Trevor in the ways of the man-whore. The Gigolos is interested in the admin that goes into being a gigolo, in the same way The Good Shepherd concerned itself with the deskwork necessary for a spy: there's a more than faintly pedantic quibble over the time a bottle of sherry should be brought to table. Yet Bracewell forever does interesting things with London as a melancholy, faded, past-its-prime location, and among several musical gags, there's an inspired use of Ian Dury's "Clever Trever" as both a commentary on the action and exactly the type of track an unprepossessing pimp might put onto his iPod to psych himself up.

(March 2007)

The Gigolos screens on BBC2 this Friday at 12.05am.

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