An intriguing début feature from director Richard Bracewell, The Gigolos is the story of a successful male escort and the assistant to whom he is teaching the tricks of the trade - an assistant who, during the course of the film, will become his rival. By turns sad and quirkily comic, it's as charming as its protagonists but, ultimately, just as difficult to form any real connection to.

Shot largely with handheld cameras, this is a film which at once creates a voyeuristic intimacy with its characters and puts the viewer at a distance. Its low-lit, verité approach makes it come across like a documentary, suggesting we are getting an insight into the lives of real people, and this is substantiated by numerous scenes detailing the minutiae of Sacha and Trevor's everyday routines. Watching them doing the housework and the accounts and then going out on dates makes it clear how much the latter are simply a part of that routine, no matter how enthused they may seem to the women whom they seek to entertain.

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At one point, Trevor is chastised for glancing at his watch during a date - a professional faux pas - and this is the only indication we get of the passage of time during the film. The days drift by, emphasising the protagonists' lack of any real long-term plans or ambitions. Everything is centered on the day to day, and so we see petty disagreements get blown out of proportion. Still, there are no melodramatics here, just a quiet sense of things starting to unravel. The film relies heavily on its soundtrack for emotional impact, inviting us to pity these disconnected people, but it's unclear how much they really deserve this, having chosen their own course in life - a course about which they are notably coy, often hesitating as they begin to describe it and then referring to it simply as 'work'.

Contributing to the atmosphere of realism is the refreshingly bunt way in which characters are presented. Few of the escorts are under 30 and they are only average in appearance; their ability to seduce comes from a set of professional skills which they pride themselves on mastering, all about presentation, charm, and the ability to look as if they're genuinely having fun.

Despite the ambiguity of their relationships with their clients, they treat them with respect, and so does the film. These are, after all, wealthy women, and most of them have got that way because they're intelligent. The film draws its humour from the awkwardness of interaction between characters, never from ridicule. It's never entirely clear how aware the women are of the unspoken contract they have made, but when we see them having fun it's difficult to feel that they are altogether being exploited. Nevertheless, the overall landscape painted by the film is one of a desolate, vague London in which numerous lonely people entertain each other on a temporary basis without ever finding the emotional succour which, it is implied, they need.

Deliberately slow and understated, The Gigolos is a film which it's hard to get emotional about, but it's a fine piece of work, demonstrating intelligence and real craftsmanship. It certainly marks out Bracewell and its leads as ones to watch.

Reviewed on: 21 Mar 2007
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A gentle observational comedy looking at the lives of a successful London gigolo and his assistant.
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Director: Richard Bracewell

Writer: Sacha Tarter, Trevor Sather,

Starring: Sacha Tarter, Trevor Sather, Susannah York, Anna Massey, Siân Phillips

Year: 2006

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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