American Gigolo | Chicago Reader

American Gigolo

Paul Schrader makes a habit of struggling with the most recondite of theological themes in the most lurid of commercial contexts. The subject of this 1980 prostitution saga is grace, and it's certainly amazing. Richard Gere, as the top hired stud of Beverly Hills, achieves salvation through the right balance of innocence and victimization—though ultimately it's the unselfish and unmotivated love of a good woman (Lauren Hutton) that clinches his election. And you thought it was about sex? Most critics have cited Robert Bresson's Pickpocket as Schrader's inspiration (as it was for Taxi Driver), but the Gere character's oblivious journey toward sainthood reminded me mainly of Bresson's put-upon mule in Au hasard Balthazar. The drawback here is an alienating, overelaborate visual style that forestalls any involvement with the characters.117 min.

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