Title:  Trick

Release Date:  1999

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 89 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company:  Fineline Features; Good Machine 

Director; Writer: Jim Fall, wr. Jason Schafer

Producer: Eric d’Arbeloff

Cast:    Christian Campbell, John Paul Pitoc, Tori Spelling, Steve Hayes, Brad Beyer


Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site:


Here is another light opera buffet, without the music. (Well, now, the hero is a song writer, and gradually the music creeps in, winding up with a wonderfully lilting song “Trick of Fate” (David Friedman) to close the movie in grand Rogers-Hammerstein fashion. (In a disco scene, the familiar “I cam do anything” is played.) This film is a romantic situation comedy with gay character. The plot is stereotyped, but maybe it reflects the reality of living in New York, where struggling young artists can't afford the privacy of their own pads and have to compromise with roommates to get their lives going at all. And it really gets into the issues and grows on you.

What makes this work, again, is the likeable young male "romantic" lead character, Gabriel, played by Christian Campbell. He is the ideal son, the kind any father ought to be proud of. And he has multiple talents: composing music (it sounds a bit like Scott Joplin most of the time), lyrics, and scripts, all to purse a lost genre, the family musical. In fact, the movie ends with his musical realized in the soundtrack, ending loudly, Puccini-style (again, “Trick of Fate”). I know the life. I compose and write and try to sell it, and it's hard; you have to have a real job at the same time to make it.

Despite his soft-spoken, wholesome nature, Gabriel is a bit of a manipulator, looking for other men to give him love. He meets a Latino go-go boy, Mark (John Paul Pitoc) with eye contact on the subway (the IRT, now finally air-conditioned, I think). Trouble is, he has so many subjects in his kingdom that won't leave him alone for a moment of privacy with his "trick." (They will eventually form a real psychological bond.) The bring-home scene is proto-erotic. There is an annoying delay where the live-in straight actress Katherine (Tori Spelling) hangs around, voyeuristically, printing 150 resumes on a slow dot-matrix printer (Okidata?)—and this is 1999?  But, finally (!), after she departs, Gabriel is playing the celebrated, triple-time adagio finale of Beethoven's Piano Sonata #30 (E Major, Opus 109) – a bit too fast --while Mark goes to work on him from behind, exposing and then exploring his chest with his hands.

This scene is significant, because Gabriel really does get very agitated and presumably aroused, even if he wants to keep playing the cerebral late Beethoven work while Mark is to continue the next fulfillment of Gabriel’s fantasy, from below the piano stool. But then, those frustrating interruptions and lost house keys—mission aborted, at least for now! There is a legal point that doesn’t matter here since the characters are adults, but it could in other movies: fetish and arousal need no require genital or private parts involvement, even by implication. 

In fact, the "situation" is set up by the straight roommate (Brad Beyer) who, following the comic (but incorrect) stereotypes, seems to be the only male in the movie with a hairy chest (well, there is Dino, in the disco, who will “get it” – see below.). Actually, though, it seems to be the straight men (like Tom Cruise's character in Eyes Wide Shut) who are constantly forced to go through unknown territories to test the longevity of their masculinity.

Later, Gabe and Mark will go “clubbing,” in a disco scene that is well done. Mark will resist letting Mark strip him again, but then soon removes his shirt himself. (Is that to reinforce his earlier experience?) But Mark will become distracted by others in the bar, especially Dino (Jamie Gustis). In the meantime, Gabriel will have a long chat with a drag queen (Coco Peru) in the john, and “she” will tell on Mark, setting up some playful tension in their relationship, early on. They ought to head to Julius’s and try those delicious burgers. 

There is a line in the script, that everyone today is bisexual. You hear this today on college campuses. There are no straight men! Hardly true. But Richard Brookhiser, in "The Gay Moment" in National Review (July 26, 1999) hits the nail on the head: "The normal majority…once they overcome their squeamishness, seek out gay friends and gay imaginary companions supplied by the media as symbolic non-combatants. They may not want to join them, but they are soothed by knowing that they exist." So much for gay-straight roommates, even in "fraternity" clubs (houses).


Related reviews: Latter Days, etc. Eyes Wide Shut


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