American Gigolo ★★★★

Paul Schrader's stylized study of the loneliness and emptiness of a high end male prostitute, centered around the murder frame-up of the lead character and his ultimate redemption through a woman who loves him. Many unfavorably compare this to Schrader's grittier early works, but it has some of the same darkness at its core.

I hadn't seen this film since its original release, and was happy to see it show up on the Criterion Channel. This was Richard Gere's breakthrough role as Julien Kaye, and he plays it well. You see his gradual realization that, in spite of his near-perfect physique, Armani wardrobe and highly honed skills with older wealthy women, he is ultimately friendless and vulnerable. His lover, the trophy wife of a rising politician (played by Lauren Hutton) is also struggling with emptiness and aloneness. The ending is directly lifted from Bresson, and is an odd and abrupt switch from the melodrama that preceded it. I am not quite sure it ultimately works, but it's hard to imagine a satisfactory alternative end to the film.

It's ultimately not a great film but quite watchable, and very much part of it's time period. And the Giorgio Moroder synthesizer score is memorable and suits the film nicely.