Monday, 23 March 2015
Richard Gere is Julian Kaye, a perfectly poised male escort who has made an armour out of his Armani suits and sexual distance. American Gigolo is his unravelling. Kaye is in the frame for the particularly brutal murder of a former client. Since Kaye plies his trade nuzzling up to the bored wives of the rich and famous, an alibi is hard to come by. Writer-director Paul Schrader isn't particularly interested in the homicide case, instead he homes in on its effect on Kaye's psychological well-being.
Kaye prides himself on being a kind of toy. Sex with him is a transaction, with Kaye working his damnedest to help his ageing employers get off. When he talks about his trade Kaye focuses in on his ability to slowly draw out this pleasure. He can take an ageing woman and fuck her until she feels young again. That's what does it for him. That's what makes him valuable as a commodity. He'll take the time, put in the work. Kaye is a people pleaser. When he interacts with his pimps, there's an underlining tension. He'll let them set up a job, but he cashes them out of any repeat business. The Madams eat shit because Kaye's that good, he confers quality.
This is the key to the Kaye character, he's desperate to hold onto this power. As far as he's concerned he's at the top of the prostitution totem pole. He interacts with clingy women who, if he's good, will buy him an expensive stereo. As things get worse and the cops and conspirators get closer, we start to see where Kaye came from, street corners and leather clubs, working tricks that make him spit out invectives. Kaye is revealed as not even sexual malleable, he's probably closer to asexual. His drives and desires have nothing to do with it. Love making for him isn't anything other than an act that ascribes him class and status.