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Gigolos, The (2006)

Courtesy of Wildfire Film Releasing Ltd

Main image of Gigolos, The (2006)
16mm, colour, 95 mins
Directed byRichard Bracewell
Production CompanyPunk Cinema Limited
Produced byRichard Bracewell
Written bySacha Tarter
 Trevor Sather
 Richard Bracewell
PhotographyRichard Bracewell
MusicJon Scott

Cast: Sacha Tarter (Sacha); Trevor Sather (Trevor); Susannah York (Tessa Harrington); Siân Phillips (Baroness James); Angela Pleasence (Joy); Anna Massey (Edwina)

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A gigolo and his valet search for love and friendship in the London male escort world.

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Sacha (Sacha Tarter) and Trevor (Trevor Sather) are business partners operating out of Mayfair. Sacha, the dapper public face, dresses in sharp suits and dines at the finest restaurants with his clients, striving to make the best possible impression. The shambling Trevor works behind the scenes via PC and headset, co-ordinating appointments and conducting a forensic analysis of Sacha's meetings immediately after he reports back. The only difference between their operation and that of any other business is revealed by the film's title: they provide escort services for ladies of a certain age.

Their four main clients are played by well-known actresses, an inspired bit of casting since their faces are lined with memories of earlier roles. Librarian Joy (Angela Pleasence) is the least complicated and most playful: she doesn't have an image to keep up, unlike New Labour peer Baroness James (Siân Phillips). Modelling agent Tessa (Susannah York) is so unimpressed with Sacha at first that she nearly cancels their assignation (his attempt at retrieving the situation leads to an accident that fundamentally changes his relationship with Trevor), while Edwina (Anna Massey), the oldest of the quartet, is still obsessed with memories of her missing, presumed long-dead lover.

To create symmetry, Sacha and Trevor regularly encounter two more gigolos: veteran Basil (Basil Moss) and newcomer Ben (Ben Willbond). The latter is reluctantly taken on as Sacha's assistant-cum-trainee after Trevor strikes out on his own, but they lack the same chemistry, and Ben cannot come close to matching Trevor's often infuriatingly pernickety but professionally essential attention to seemingly insignificant detail. Or not that insignificant, as Sacha finds out when he commits the cringeworthy faux pas of assuming that an anniversary is a birthday without investigating further.

Richard Bracewell's feature debut makes a positive virtue of its evidently tiny budget, its hand-held 16mm cinematography turning nocturnal and dawn-lit London into something soft and mysterious. The script was largely improvised, the lion's share falling to Tarter and Sather (who had worked together on earlier comedy projects), who have some very funny exchanges about everything from lonely hearts ads to how to convey the phrase "Salut je m'appelle Trevor" in total silence. But for all the genuine laughs, the film is underpinned by an abiding sense of melancholy and loneliness, as though everyone realises the essential absurdity of their situation but is unwilling or unable to do anything about it.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
1. Baroness James (3:22)
2. Training Trevor (3:32)
3. Edwina's memories (2:22)
4. Beryl's anniversary (2:35)
Massey, Anna (1937-2011)
Phillips, Siân (1933-)
York, Susannah (1939-2011)