American Gigolo

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Before Richard Gere did such noteable roles as “An Officer and a Gentlemen” and “Pretty Woman”, he started out doing what most actors do, low key movies. As low key an actor as Richard Gere is, this would seem almost the exact opposite of what he would usually play. While he plays lawyers to a tee (Red Corner and Primal Fear), he has also shown us a range that has made him not just another Hollywood face. It was this movie, American Gigolo, that gave Gere the most notariety and really put him on the map as a true leading man. Gere plays Julian, a gigolo (which, for those of you who don’t know, is basically a male prostitute) who gets into some hot water with the law after a trick goes bad. Gere, playing the character of Julian is very interesting to watch. He is one of those actors that despite the color of his hair, has really not aged in the last twenty years. Seeing Richard Gere play a gigolo was something that I was looking forward to, as I heard that it was one of his better (if not his best) role.

The life of a gigolo is really no different that the life of a prositute, and rightly so as it’s basically the same job. However gigolo’s seem to be a bit more high-profile, if that’s not a contridiction in terms, than their female counterparts. Julian has a pimp, but has left his original pimp to go for the bigger money. Julian’s character is totatlly superficial who is only concerned about money, cars and how good he looks all the time. It’s when he does a favor for an old friend, a trick out in Palm Springs, that makes things go bad. The trick itself is fine, the husband is a bit of a “bully” wanting his wife to be slapped and other assorted things done to her. It’s only after this that a few days later the woman turns up dead and all of the sudden he has Detective Sunday (Hector Elizando, also the hotel manager from “Pretty Woman”) breathing down his neck. Add to this the strain of having one of his tricks that is starting to fall in love with him. In addition the woman who is so infatuated happens to be a Senator’s wife (or promising Senator) and it just so happens to be an election year.

While the plot isn’t exactly the hardest to figure out, it’s the acting that really steals the show. While some movies are based purely on hype (Independence Day and Godzilla) the rest are pulled together through the direction or the actors in the movie, and this is the latter. Julian has to come to terms with what he is, as it seems that he has almost become immune to his so called title. There’s no doubt that he takes pride in his “work”, but at the face of a true romantic interlude with Michelle (the senator’s wife), he has to make a decision in order to save himself. Having heard a lot about American Gigolo in the past, it’s not a movie that I’ve ever seen before, so I was excited to see it. I have to say though, despite the great acting and plot, it has several rough scenes in it. Even for a movie twenty years old, many terms and visual images (such as Richard Gere in a full frontal nudity shot for about 20 seconds) have yet to be repeated. This film took some risks and they paid off in making Richard Gere the star he is today. I recommend it.

Video: How does it look?

Yet another title that Parmount has given the benefit of a brand new 16:9 transfer. The 1.85:1 image looks good, but I believe that there was some damage to the source material, because the opening scenes look a bit rough. Throughout the movie, it does get better and it’s by far the best transfer that you’ll find out there. While there were a few compression errors and some artifacting, it’s not that bad considering that this film is 20 years old.

Audio: How does it sound?

A French mono track is included along with the original Dolby Surround track and a newly remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Since I’m sure most will choose the 5.1 track, I’ll focus here…Dialogue is good, not great, there is some loss of trying to make a 20 year old track sound like it’s brand new and it sounds a bit “hollow” to say the least. There are some spots where the surrounds kick in and make it worth the effort, but I wouldn’t expect anything too great out of it. For a film this old to sound like this is average, I’ve heard worse, but then again, I’ve heard better.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A theatrical trailer is included.

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