AMERICAN GIGOLO -- AMC Academy, Annandale, Capri, Hampton Mall, Roth's Parkway, Village Mall and Roth's Tysons Corner.
That old clunker about the prostitute with the heart of gold, who speaks six languages and is in business only to make people happy, is back. No nasty sex is allowed, just good straight fun, and the clientele consists of handsome, impeccably groomed, old-but-not-to-old, rich people, the best and youngest of whom falls madly in love with the prostitute's inner goodness and redeems his soul.
His soul? Why, yes. No one would dare to bring that kitschy story out again without some small modern twist, and the one in Paul Schrader's "American Gigolo" is that the prostitute is a boy. This does nothing for the unlikely premise that the dear thing's personal qualities would inspire true love.
But the star of this film is neither the prostitute nor his rich patron, played with equal vacancy by the narrow-eyed Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton, the Revlon model with the arrestingly lopsided face. It is the wealth of consumer goods -- a black Mercedes, an apartment in shades of pearl gray, a tasteful clutter of paintings and art books, Giorgio Armani clothes, afternoons at Sothby Parke-Bernet's -- representing a lifestyle of which skillful sex is only one more soothing luxury that is available at a price.
In this world, it is perhaps understandable that a one-man walking boutique would attract a woman who can't endure one more day of being merely young, rich, chic and married to a dynamic young senator. This is basically a story about the pastime of shopping as an antidote to boredom., only the shopper has wandered into a cocktail lounge, instead of a store, and is looking for something live, or nearly so, to try on. That any human activity worth considering should ensue from this situation would be ridiculous to expect.
But is not the worst. This old fantasy has been told before without doing any permanent damage to the population. The worst is that this version -- it's shocking but one has to say it -- is utterly lacking in redeeming prurient significance.