While the subject of female prostitution has been covered on celluloid in some detail over the years, films such as Klute and Pretty Women standing out as some of the more mainstream titles, male escorting, as depicted in 2006’s The Gigolos, is something of a rarity.
American Gigolo and Deuce Bigalow both come to mind as two examples of American film makers tackling the subject, but whether the lack of similar ventures in the UK is due to a perceived lack of public interest or simple distaste in the subject isn’t clear.
Judging by director Richard Bracewell’s take on the subject matter, there’s a goldmine there just waiting to be mined.
Focusing on experience escort Sacha (Sacha Tarter) and his valet Trevor (Trevor Sather), The Gigolos invites the viewer into a world of loneliness and insecurity as the two men go about their daily business of arranging dates with a series of older, single women.
As the two make their way through London’s nightlife to their various assignations, problems start to rear their head when Sacha is injured, causing the pair to re-evaluate everything they’ve worked for.
While both leads are virtual unknowns to the audience, the clients are four of the acting profession’s finest: Siân Philips, Susannah York, Angela Pleasence and Anna Massey all appear as ladies of a certain age who require some male company.
Massey in particular gives a fine performance, her dismissal of Sacha at one point when he’s at a low ebb a reminder that he’s just an employee, nothing more.
Although never voyeuristic – the script doesn’t dwell on any seediness or morning-after-the-night-before style scenes – the constant use of close-ups and snippets of casual conversation do give an intimate feel to the film that can sometimes be uncomfortable.
Improvisation is at the heart of the picture, the accompanying behind-the-scenes documentary on the DVD showing just how much of the script was made up on the day.
The skill of Tarter and Sather in making the dialogue and situations feel so real is a testament to both their ease with each other (the pair also worked together on the ‘Office meets The Apprentice’ comedy pilot, The Big Idea, another welcome addition to the extras package) and the director’s confidence in the project.
While humour plays a big part in the naturalistic dialogue, as well as in a memorable scene showing Trevor try to communicate with Sacha using only his eyebrows, sadness also makes itself known at various points.
To the casual observer, the women who hire such men as Sacha may seem desperate, but the reality is sometimes quite different. Elsewhere, the scene of Sacha arriving at one clients office brandishing a birthday cake is as funny as it is tragic, marking a turning point for both the character and the film.
Never brash or bawdy, this is a contemplative look at a subject which has much say about relationships in modern society, humour being used to underline the drama rather than dominate it.
This classy new DVD package will also be of interest to not only the general filmgoer but to the aspiring film maker, offering something of a masterclass in how to assemble a cinema worthy product on a shoestring budget.
DVD Special features
- Feature commentary by Bracewell, Tarter and Sather
- Gigolos Uncovered (Paul Sullivan, 2008), ‘making-of’ documentary (28 mins)
- The Big Idea: a portrait of entrepreneurial Britain (Richard Bracewell, 2003), short film from the creative team behind The Gigolos (28 mins)
- Interview with director, BBC Film Network, 2007 (7 mins)
- How to Write a Hollywood Screenplay (Richard Bracewell, 1995), short film written by and starring David Wolstencroft (10 mins)
- Original trailer
- Illustrated booklet
- Dolby Digital stereo (320 kbps)
- Release Date: 9 February 2009
- Cat No. BFIDVD799
- Certificate: 12
- Subtitles: Optional English subtitles for the hearing-impaired (except How to Write a Hollywood Screenplay)
- Running Time: 95mins and 75mins extra material
- DVD-9/ original aspect ratio 1.85:1 (16×9 anamorphic)
- Find out more at the BFI Filmstore