Jon Bernthal shines in American Gigolo

Jon Bernthal shines in American Gigolo

Julian Kaye (Jon Bernthal) in American Gigolo (Paramount +)

Julian Kaye (Jon Bernthal) a American gigolo (Main +)

With the criminal drama American gigolo (streaming on Paramount + September 10) the debates on masculinity, gender identity and sexual desire have a contemporary twist.

David Hollander (Ray Donovan) directs this remake, drawing on the characters created by Paul Schrader from his eponymous film with Richard Gere. However in this incarnation that role – which has done so much to make Gere a household name – comes to Jon Bernthal hitting a home run from the first minute as Julian Kaye.

What becomes evident in those opening minutes is that David Hollander respects his source material; American gigolo it is one of several seminal works by Paul Schrader, which is placed next to it Taxi driver And The card counter as films that explore masculinity.

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As a nonconformist of mainstream cinema that counts Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola among his contemporaries, he continues to shape cinema today.

Johnny (Gabriel LaBelle) in American Gigolo (Paramount +)

Johnny (Gabriel LaBelle) inside American gigolo (Main +)

In terms of American gigolo, creator David Hollander is skilled enough to slightly modify that formula for a new generation in which attitudes towards the objectification of others no longer have concrete boundaries. Here former inmates can no longer pick up where they left off seducing women for money.

Told through a combination of flashbacks, American gigolo it bounces between past and present anchored by Julian of Bernthal and the younger incarnation of Gabriel LaBelle. The latter perfectly compliments his older incarnation, as the audience experiences defining moments that shape this person. It is in these opening episodes that American gigolo presents an agenda to the public that some may find difficult to accept.

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Although the central premise focuses on finding those responsible for framing Julian, after his release after fifteen years, what American gigolo Truly trying to explore is all that Paul Schrader sought answers for over forty years ago.

Although the sexual landscape may have changed, issues of identity remain equally ambiguous, while discussions of identity refer to more than just biology.

Michelle Stratton (Gretchen Mol) in American Gigolo (Paramount +)

Michelle Stratton (Gretchen Mol) in American gigolo (Main +)

Along with Bernthal as Julian, Gretchen Mol plays former client Michelle Stratton, forming the only genuinely loving relationship on screen. There is a tenderness and understanding between them that are lacking in her bond with her husband Richard (Leland Orser). However, after her fifteen-year hiatus, things moved on and she has a teenage son, who ironically loves a teacher more than her own family.

As Julian adjusts to life outside, memories are activated through casual encounters with old friends, some clothes in shop windows, or, more touchingly, a homecoming. A place where dilapidated caravan parks face each other, while educational flashbacks explain where his attitude towards sex was initially formulated.

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Equipped with attributes that made it an attractive proposition for women of all ages, here’s where American gigolo really begins to explore masculinity. Just like Paul Schrader before him, David Hollander tries to understand the idea of ​​masks within society. Julian as a man exists to provide comfort, comfort and companionship, while Johnny hides under a facade unable to connect with anyone. Ironically, one exists in the other and they are the same at the same time.

Detective Sunday (Rosie O'Donnell) in American Gigolo (Paramount +)

Detective Sunday (Rosie O’Donnell) enters American gigolo (Main +)

This is what lies at the heart of this Paramount + series, which has attracted producers including Jerry Bruckheimer and Jared Leto. Conviction is a powerful thing and with the presence of these people behind the project, Paramount clearly felt it was worth the risk.

However, perhaps the biggest risk and reveal is a scene that steals Rosie O’Donnell’s performance as Detective Sunday. A fragile and uncompromising law enforcement officer, who is there in the opening frames delivering a wildly intimate diatribe to Julian. Hidden under thick glasses, a stern military haircut and a gray rinse, the comedian is unrecognizable.

As trapped as Julian is by genetic advantages, Detective Sunday is limited by his overtly masculine appearance. Stripped of femininity and defined through rules and regulations, this performance is no less powerful for its qualities of restraint and immersion. It goes without saying that the cheers will go to Bernthal for providing a heartwarming portrait of fractured masculinity, but O’Donnell offers something of equal caliber without the show.

Lorenzo (Wayne Brady) in American Gigolo (Paramount +)

Lorenzo (Wayne Brady) inside American gigolo (Main +)

Aside from these powerful displays that possess their own unique chemistry, American gigolo benefits from support players Lizzie Brochere and Wayne Brady. The former portrays a manipulative dominatrix having an affair with Julian, while the latter represents her foundation for good and bad. Each weaves an extra layer of drama into this effortlessly complex series.

For audiences looking for an adult slice of contemporary drama, with all the sophistication, balance and precision of great cinema, look no further American gigolo.

The first two episodes of American gigolo are now available to stream on Paramount +, with new episodes coming out weekly on Saturdays. Watch the trailer below.

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