Starring John Bernthal as tortured male escort Julian Kaye, Paramount Plus’s American Gigolo is a reimagining of the 1980 film of the same name, which had Richard Geer in the titular role. Fresh out of prison for a murder he didn’t commit, the first two episodes revolve around Julian’s attempts to reconnect with society and get his life back on track. However, his former lover, Michelle (Gretchen Mol), has moved on and is embroiled in her own drama, while Julian is unsure if he wants to return to his former line of work. Meanwhile, a no-nonsense detective (Rosie O’Donnell) is in pursuit of the bigger mystery that initially put Julian behind bars all those years ago.
Bernthal once again gives an incredible performance as the troubled protagonist. His sincerity and honest charm will quickly have audiences on his side as the script explores the character’s troubled past and precarious future. However, the opening episode is heavily front-loaded with its drama, sporadically switching between flashbacks and a myriad of plot points, which can be disorienting. It throws viewers straight into the deep end and expects them to have a basic grasp of the film’s plot to understand what’s going on.
Thankfully, the show settles into a comfortable pace during the second episode. With the heavy exposition completed, the script is free to spend more time with its cast of characters, and it’s at its most interesting during these quieter moments. It’s in scenes where Bernthal interacts with a friendly dog and shares a cigarette with his new landlady that his performance shines through best and gives an insight into the character. Likewise, the second episode is when the show also begins to dig into the overarching murder mystery. Though the script isn’t giving anything away just yet, there are enough moving parts underway to keep things compelling.
Led by a captivating performance by Bernthal, this version of American Gigolo gets off to a rocky start with a scatterbrained first episode. However, the second brings just enough characterisation and intrigue to the table to spark curiosity.
American Gigolo is released on 10th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for American Gigolo here: