90 minutes, U.S.A., 2013, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

Making a rare appearance as lead actor, Woody Allen is bookshop owner Murray, who, when forced to close his business, sees an opportunity in making employee Fioaravante (John Turturro) available for ‘companionship’ to women of a certain age. The lucrative possibilities lure Fioravante (or ‘Virgil’, as his clients, including Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara, know him) into service, and soon his skills are in much demand. Previously suppressed ethical quandaries over his new profession are stirred by the introduction of Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), a lonely Hasidic widow whose religious beliefs may keep her beyond his reach. 

Turturro directs with a light touch, creating a film of gentle humour and warmth in which Fiorvante’s relationship with Avigal is intensely sweet, while that with Murray, given Allen’s impeccable comic timing, keeps the laughs coming. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)

★★★ The Irish Times

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