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Performing Ethics Through Film StyleLevinas with the Dardenne Brothers, Barbet Schroeder and Paul Schrader$
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Edward Lamberti

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474444002

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474444002.001.0001

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American Gigolo and the Ethics of Falling in Love

American Gigolo and the Ethics of Falling in Love

(p.151) Chapter 7 American Gigolo and the Ethics of Falling in Love
Performing Ethics Through Film Style

Edward Lamberti

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 7 analyses American Gigolo (1980), Paul Schrader’s third film as a director, following on from Blue Collar (1978) and Hardcore (1979). In comparison with the styles of Blue Collar and Hardcore, American Gigolo, a romantic thriller focusing on the high-class gigolo Julian Kaye (Richard Gere), is stylistically ostentatious, positively exploding with flourishes such as elaborate camera movements, expressive lighting, abundant use of music and striking use of colour, all of which would come to recur throughout Schrader’s work, frequently in the 1980s and periodically thereafter. Drawing on Schrader’s own theoretical work on transcendental style, the chapter shows how analysing the film style of American Gigolo from a Levinasian perspective reveals the ethical drive of Julian’s relationship with his clients, before reflecting on what he gains ethically and what he loses ethically when he turns away from those clients towards a developing love affair with one particular person.

Keywords:   Paul Schrader, American Gigolo, Film style, Emmanuel Levinas, Richard Gere, Ethics, Transcendental style

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