Double Feature: American Gigolo / Pretty Woman

I think the theme of this double feature review is quite obvious. Here are two Richard Gere movies where he gets to play the ends of the spectrum - American Gigolo and Pretty Woman, released ten years apart.

American Gigolo
American Gigolo divulges, or at least tries to divulge the life of a male prostitute in the form of Julian Kaye. He's a bit high-maintenance - he prefers rich, older women, and only works for himself, something that his employers detest. He meets Michelle, a lonely woman who initially just wanted his services, but they find themselves in a full-blown affair. Beyond his personal life, he gets framed for the murder of a woman he had met once. 

In a way the movie tries to show the ups and downs of his profession - he has no personal attachments, he lives a lavish and comfortable life, and his clients seem to be satisfied with his services. However, there's a stigma he brings to the room and only when he gets to talk to people personally do the real thoughts about him (both as a person and what he does) come to light. However, the movie's message doesn't really do much impact. The content wasn't enough for the movie to have some kind of hold. At the end the movie was wrapped up nicely but it still doesn't make us care for the character or his fate. 

I think both the strong and weak point of the movie is casting Richard Gere for the lead role. He is charismatic which works, but at the times where he needs to have emotional depth, no matter how his character acted all sad and frustrated with his situation, it doesn't sell. I was still indifferent to him afterwards is because he still exudes that confidence even when he's at the brink for going to jail for a crime he did not commit. I have to commend him for carrying this entire production because his co-stars do nothing to elevate this. Most of the interactions Gere has apart from Lauren Hutton seem lackluster, and even Hutton has a bit of difficulty conveying other emotions herself. Even the exchanges between Gere and Hector Elizondo lacked conviction and mystery. 

Final Word: The movie's costumes (Gere was well dressed even at times when he's supposed to look sloppy) and soundtrack were my favorite factors about this movie. 

Cast: Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton, Hector Elizondo
Director: Paul Schrader
Year: 1980

Pretty Woman
I finally got around to watching this! It's kind of hard to enjoy a good romantic comedy when your views on romance are pessimistic as of the moment. We find Gere in the other side of the spectrum when his character, Edward Lewis meets Vivian Ward on the streets of LA and ends up spending the night with her. The following day he makes a proposition about hiring Vivian as his lady companion for the week, showing up at events and meeting people. As typical romantic comedies go, they eventually end up falling in love.

While it's easy to poke holes on the plot, it helps that Julia Roberts and Richard Gere have a chemistry that translates very well onscreen. Their characters know what they want, and removing all pretenses aside, they were able to get along very well despite their arrangement. The movie takes us to their whirlwind romance, touching a bit on the issue of Vivian's profession and Edward's stoic demeanor that changes because of Vivian.

The whole movie was enjoyable and you can't help but cheer for them. Roberts shone in her role as Vivian, bringing life in her portrayal. The soundtrack was great and livened the mood of the movie. Both collaborate again in Runaway Bride, but it doesn't capture their chemistry quite as well as this one.

Final Word: Despite the urge to go berserk about the plot holes, it's one of the more enjoyable Julia Roberts romantic comedies. I also liked the soundtrack.

Cast: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander
Director: Garry Marshall
Year: 1990


  1. Wow, what a coincidence. I literally just finished a (unplanned) double-feature myself, though of a very different sort: the 1955 film Conquest of Space followed by the 2013 film Gravity, the connection being that they were both attempts at hard science fiction from different eras as well as the contrasting genders (one featuring an all-male cast, the other focusing almost exclusively on a female astronaut).

    That said, I can't say I'm familiar with either of these films you referred to, though I can understand your concerns about romantic comedies. That genre is so often stereotyped if makes it hard to find good ones in general. Most of the exceptions I know of are older ones probably made when the romantic comedy was still considered a dignified genre (though movies like Desk Set suggest that even then they were still considered "woman's pictures"). In fact technically a lot of them would more likely be referred to as "screwball comedies" by modern critics. I also can't say I have the most optimistic views on love, though that may also be from so far having virtually no experiences with it, but one thing I do know it's never as simple as the movies like to make it look.

    1. Love is never simple, even I have negative feelings on the subject (depending on my mood/topic of conversation). I do prefer the 90's to early 2000's romantic comedies and a few classic ones. There are some that I can't fathom the way the leading men treated their women.

  2. Pretty Woman, like you point out, is so chuck full of plot holes and yet they don't matter because Roberts is so likable/LOVABLE in the role. I haven't seen the other film...not sure I want to.

    1. You're not missing much, it wasn't significant and I think I've seen better movies of a similar topic.