Let’s get the breezy comedy stuff – on the surface of a far more interesting movie – out of the way: Woody Allen, in a rare acting role in someone else's movie, plays Murray, an impish bookstore owner facing economic end days. Improbably, he finds himself negotiating sexual encounters for desperate well-to-do women (including dermatologist Sharon Stone and feisty gal pal Sofía Vergara), after realising that his reticent florist friend, Fioravante (John Turturro, also the film's writer-director), is actually a quiet stud. If you’ve missed the fumbling Allen of the likes of ‘Broadway Danny Rose’, that guy is back.
But Turturro, writing and directing in a register light-years from his nebbishy acting turn in the Coen brothers’ ‘Barton Fink’, has a more sensual New York indie movie in mind. One client, the delicate Hasidic widow Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), has never been truly romanced, and she blooms in Fioravante’s gaze, while her neighbourhood patroller (Liev Schreiber, terrific in a tricky part) worries on her behalf, partly out of jealousy. This second, more hidden film is the keeper: the kind of keenly observed cultural clash that still finds room for dancing, a sultry fish-deboning (you just have to see it) and awakening.