After cruising the fringes of the fest circuit (from AFI to Dinard) for almost a year and a half, likable Brit character comedy “The Gigolos” finally gets to strut its stuff in limited release on home turf. Quality low-budgeter, centered on two friends who service a well-heeled segment of London’s ladies who pay, is too low-key to work beyond specialty release but reps an accomplished debut by writer-thesps Sacha Tarter and Trevor Sather, with closely knitted direction by multihyphenate Richard Bracewell. Film is a natural for rep houses and upmarket movie channels.
Pic reps a seamless collaboration between Bracewell and writing partners Tarter and Sather, with the former’s seemingly eavesdropping direction complementing the economical script. In fact, “comedy” is hardly the word to describe “The Gigolos,” whose subtlety is rooted in alternative TV Britcoms of the past decade: It’s a movie you either get or don’t get.
Tarter plays Sacha, a professional gigolo with a nice apartment overlooking the Thames and a business partner, Trevor (Sather), who takes his bookings and makes sure the restaurant has the right wine. Sacha has a slightly working-class edge to his charm, while Trevor is a plummy public-school type who seems happiest just managing the money.
Pic moseys along for about 40 minutes, showing Sacha at work and Trevor handling backup, with minor crises like Sacha almost blowing an important date with a female pol (Sian Phillips, excellent). But when Sacha sprains his ankle on an assignment with a fashion buyer (Susannah York, ditto), Trevor temps for him — so successfully that he starts to go into business for himself.
Tightly written script dispenses with most connecting material and, especially in the final furlong, deliberately underplays what would be major confrontations in a more conventional movie. Instead, it concentrates on the small grace-notes of human encounters, whether over a dinner table as gigolo and client go through a ritualistic date, at a bar when gigolos talk about their craft, or in Sacha’s apartment as he kills time during the day.
Cannily, the filmmakers use name actresses as the femme clients, each with her special flavor: From Phillips’ immensely suave baroness, through York’s no-nonsense fashionista, to Anna Massey as a wonderfully ditzy old dame. Their appearances spark the picture at regular intervals while the subtler story of Sacha and Trevor’s competitive friendship — and its resolution — grows in the background.
Lensing, originally on 16mm, by Bracewell himself has an easy feel for London’s downtown areas, especially at night, and editing by Craig M. Cotterill is clean and spare.