American Gigolo [1980]

Writer-director Paul Schrader viewed this as the second part of a trilogy that began with Taxi Driver and concluded with Light Sleeper--each dealing with a lonely man trying to deal with both his own dizzily spinning moral compass and the hypocrisy of the society that's trying to tell him what to do. Richard Gere plays a high-priced prostitute, an immaculately dressed stud for hire who services the bored women of Beverly Hills without ever allowing himself to be touched emotionally. His affair with a politician's wife (Lauren Hutton) changes that, at a point when he is being framed for a murder he didn't commit. Even as he tries to elude the law, he allows himself to become enmeshed with her in unexpected ways. Too cool and distant for some viewers, the film has a distinctive look and deliberate pacing--and about two endings too many. But it will keep you watching in spite of yourself. --Marshall Fine

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