Gabriel, an aspiring writer of Broadway musicals, meets Mark, a muscled stripper, who picks him up on the subway. They spend the night trying to find somewhere to be alone… forced to contend with Gabriel’s selfish roommate, his irritating best friend, and a vicious, jealous drag queen in a gay dance club. The sun rises on a promising new relationship.
Randy Goldberg <[email protected]>
User Reviews: As a genre still virtually in its infancy, the `gay romantic comedy’ (a term that sure doesn’t mean what it used to) unquestionably has a long way to go to catch up to its heterosexual equivalent. With `Trick,’ this process takes a few giant steps forward. This may not be the crossover film many right-minded people might wish it to be, but it goes a long way towards showing that there is actually a benefit to making gay-themed romantic films. Viewing romance from a gay perspective, in and of itself, helps to refresh some of the staleness that has inevitably seeped into the genre over decades of straight variants on the subject. Even though the particulars may be different, the universals remain the same yet, somehow, it is those very differences that make us take a second look at the conventions in fresh and exciting ways. For instance, I defy anyone to come up with a more purely romantic and emotionally uplifting scene than the final extended tracking shot of this film. No film in recent memory has more beautifully captured the pure, life-transforming moment of dawning love better than this one does in that special extended moment at the end. It reminds us of just how intensely straight love stories used to move us, long before they became tired and we became cynical.
As in most movie comedy romances, the plot of the film is a very simple one. Gabe is a shy, almost socially backward young musical comedy composer, living in Greenwich Village with a straight roommate who makes Gabe sleep outside while he, himself, entertains, seemingly on a nightly basis, a parade of willing young ladies. Though Gabe frequents gay bars, he seems unable to find a comfortable niche in the high-speed gay world he finds there. Then, one night, Gabe meets on the subway his virtual opposite, a muscular hunk named Mark who works as a `go-go boy’ at a local bar and who exudes the kind of raw sexuality and high-stepping confidence that makes him attractive to many of the area’s men including, not so incidentally, Gabe as well. The hook of the film is that Gabe and Mark, once they acknowledge their mutual attraction to each other, are constantly thwarted in their attempts at finding a place to consummate their one-night-stand and, that, as the night wears on and a new day dawns, they both discover that their feelings for each other have deepened considerably beyond mere casual physical attraction and immediate sexual need.
One of the factors that lends depth to this film and makes it more than just mere romantic puffery is that it does not deny the reality of its context. It deals head-on with the issue of casual sex vs. committed relationships while remaining lighthearted and non-judgmental in the process. Moreover, writer Jason Schafer and director Jim Fall demonstrate an ear for naturalistic speech, often finding humor and poignancy in the very same line of dialogue. They have surrounded the two main figures with a bevy of offbeat, slightly quirky characters who make up Gabe and Mark’s worlds in the form of best friends, roommates, former lovers, business associates etc. Tori Spelling does a delightful turn as Gabe’s ditzy ex-girlfriend and current best friend who feels conflicted over her own romantic feelings for this man she knows will never love her as she would like him to. The women are not brain surgeons in this film (Gabe’s roommate’s girlfriend is another case in point), but they sure are likeable.
In fact, likeability is probably `Trick’s biggest selling point and in no area of the film is this quality more beautifully captured than in the performances of Christian Campbell and J.P. Pitoc as Gabe and Mark, respectively. Campbell conveys the goodnatured shyness and sexual awkwardness of Gabe with a warmhearted subtlety that is truly infectious. Pitoc also manifests the sweetness and intelligence that initially lie hidden beneath the veneer of his sexually-assured, almost dumb-jock exterior. It is the ever emerging depth in Mark’s character that wins Gabe over to his side and us as well.
And then we have that great closing scene! It reminds us all gay, straight or whatever just how transcendent that moment of burgeoning true love can be. As Gabe walks towards the camera, smiling and peering out at his world with that look that tells us that the objects in it have suddenly been transformed into magical sources of wonder, our hearts go with him. We care about how this relationship will turn out and, if that is not the mark of a successful movie romance, I don’t know what is.