USA 1999

Reviewed by Andy Medhurst


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

New York City, the present. Gabriel is a gay man in his twenties who dreams of writing a hit Broadway musical. He and his best friend, actress Katherine, audition one of his songs at a writers' workshop where Gabriel's older friend Perry tells Gabriel he needs to take more risks in both his life and work. Stung, Gabriel visits a bar where he's besotted by attractive dancer Mark. Meeting on the subway, they flirt and Mark follows Gabriel home. Their attempts at sex are frustrated first by Katherine, who has dropped by, and then by Rich, Gabriel's straight room-mate, who returns home early with his girlfriend Judy.

Gabriel tries to borrow Perry's apartment, but that plan falls through. Mark takes Gabriel to a club, where Gabriel becomes uneasy as Mark's popularity leaves him sidelined. He leaves after Miss Coco Peru, an acidic drag queen, recounts a story of how Mark mistreated her during a previous sexual encounter. Mark follows Gabriel and they argue, both unsettled by how quickly they are falling for each other. Gabriel persuades Mark to go for a meal, where they bump into Katherine and her theatrical cronies. Gabriel and Katherine argue over her insensitivity, but are reconciled. Mark goes home, giving Gabriel his phone number. Remembering Miss Coco Peru had warned him Mark always gives a false number, Gabriel calls Mark and is relieved to hear Mark's voice on the answering machine.


The charm of first-time director Jim Fall's Trick lies in its good-natured unpretentiousness. It has no cutting-edge, vanguard statements about sexuality to make, and it spares both its protagonists and its audience from worthy let's-confront-homophobia scenes (the only anti-gay frame in the film is a disapproving glance from a mute subway passenger). Homosexuality here is as normal and delicious as apple pie. Consequently some might see the film as evading social issues, but surely the days when every film about gay men had to crusade before it could entertain are long gone. Besides, in a British climate where noxious campaigns to preserve Section 28 are rife, this US picture's view that homosexual love is just as everyday and just as magical as every other kind is vitally important, especially with its 15 certificate. A film doesn't have to trumpet an agenda aloud to be political.

Trick's lack of explicit sexual images (the only bed action we see is heterosexual) could dismay the type of gay audience which drearily evaluates films on their quantity of humping, but such a critique would miss the story's entire point. It's an old-fashioned romantic farce about would-be lovers who can never get to be alone, and the narrative twists that conspire to frustrate them are deftly orchestrated. The scene where Mark's level-headed kindness sacrifices another chance of bedding Gabriel in favour of bringing Perry and his ex-lover back together is typical of the film's likeable warmth and emotional generosity. It also forces Gabriel to reassess the situation and confront the scary possibility that what started out as a wet-dream pick-up - a fantasy along the lines of 'preppy meets stud, stud screws preppy, preppy seeks solace in Ethel Merman albums' - may be developing into an actual grown-up relationship.

Both Christian Campbell and John Paul Pitoc excel in the central roles, and the fact that both are unfamiliar faces (Campbell was in the Canadian teen series Degrassi Junior High; Pitoc has done stage work in New York and Edinburgh) greatly enhances the film's believability. In a few early scenes, Campbell can be too gauchely wholesome, looking and behaving like the lost gay Walton sibling, but his performance grows more complex as Gabriel matures. One of the film's neater touches has Gabriel trying to disavow his queeny, show-tune leanings in order to impress and arouse the seemingly hyper-butch Mark, only to find Mark is perfectly content with the camper aspects of gay culture. Pitoc is a definite find, cleverly catching the nuances of how a man used to being revered for his muscles and penis-size ("My nickname," he proudly informs Katherine, "is Beer Can") learns to contend with deeper feelings.

Tori Spelling, presumably cast for kitsch value, gets a little wearisome as the volatile fag-hag Katherine, although this may be a tribute to her ability to get inside such an irritating character. Her limitations point to Trick's failure to sidestep that familiar minefield for films about gay men, their tendency to offer only short-changed and predictable roles for women. It's hardly the worst example of that tendency, however, as it does at least have the ideological gumption to pour most scorn on its solitary heterosexual male - the selfish, priapic Rich. Trick is not flawless, but crisp, astute and witty films where gay men get to wallow in the joys of a romantic happy ending aren't so thick on the ground they can be lightly dismissed. It may be a little sugary here and there, but anyone who can own up to a sweet tooth will find it a welcome change from those more astringent gay pictures that make a virtue out of sourness.


Jim Fall
Eric d'Arbeloff
Jim Fall
Ross Katz
Jason Schafer
Director of Photography
Terry Stacey
Brian A. Kates
Production Designer
Jody Asnes
Music/Music Performer
David Friedman
©Roadside Attractions, LLC
Production Companies
A Roadside Attractions/Good Machine production
Executive Producers
Anthony Bregman
Mary Jane Skalski
Co-Executive Producer
Mark Beigelman
Robert Hawk
Line Producer
Per Melita
Production Office Co-ordinator
Darlene Liebman
Unit Production Manager
Per Melita
Location Manager
Petra Höbel
Post-production Supervisor
Hetakaisa Paarte
Good Machine Production Executive
Hetakaisa Paarte
Assistant Directors
Cecily Kaston
Liz Ip
Darren Goldberg
Script Supervisor
Kirsten Kearse
Susan Shopmaker
Steadicam Operator
Sandy Hays
Art Director
Gonzalo Córdoba
Set Decorator
Brian Elwell
Scenic Artist
Luna Hiral
Costume Designer
Mary Gasser
Miss Coco's Gowns
Gregg Cook
Wardrobe Supervisor
Courtney Potts
Key Hair/Make-up
Joeseph Trapani
Susan Reilly
Lainie Atlas
Lorrie Ann Dobbins
Tania Ribalow
Hair Consultant
David Hickey
Music Supervisor
Tracy McKnight
Music/Effects Editor
Rachel Chancey
Music Editor
Brian A. Kates
Lance McVickar
"Enter You" by Jason Schafer, performed by (1) Tori Spelling, (2) Christian Campbell; "Enter You" by Jason Schafer, arranged/
conducted/vocal arranged by David Friedman, orchestrated by Brian Besterman, performed by Joan Barber, Alvin Crawford, Bruce Fifer, Katie Geissinger, Rob Lorey, Bruce Moore, Luisa Tedoff, Stephanie Weems; "Take You on a Trip" by/performed by Scott Nickoley, Jamie Dunlap; "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright, performed by Erin Hamilton; "Come te gusta mi pinga?" by Alan Chapman, performed by Steve Hayes; "Piano Sonata Opus 109" by Ludwig van Beethoven, arranged/performed by David Friedman; "Listen to My Heart", "My Simple Christmas Wish (Rich, Famous and Powerful)" by/performed by David Friedman; "Brand New Lover" by Michael Momm, Jeremy Parzen, Alfred Hochstrasser, performed by Bibiche; "Somewhere under London" by/performed by The Candyskins; "Love'll Make Sense to Me" by Jeff Krassner, Shane Faber, performed by Jeff Krassner; "I Am Woman (dance mix)" by Helen Reddy, Ray Burton, performed by Jessica Williams; "Trick of Fate" by David Friedman, performed by Valerie Pinkston
Robin Carrigan
Production Sound Mixer
Antonio L. Arroyo
Re-recording Mixer
Robert Fernandez
Supervising Sound Editor
Stephen Altobello
Sound Effects
Rachel Chancey
Nancy Cabrera
Andy Kris
Trixie supplied by
Animals for Advertising
Dog Wrangler
Linda Hanrahan
Christian Campbell
John Paul Pitoc
Mark Miranda
Tori Spelling
Katherine Lambert
Lorri Bagley
Brad Beyer
Steve Hayes
Clinton Leupp
Miss Coco Peru
Eric Bernat
funky stage manager
Kevin Chamberlin
Perry's ex
Joey Dedio
ex go-go boy
Jamie Gustis
Helen Hanft
greasy spoon waitress
Will Keenan
Michele Brilliant
little dyke
Scottie Epstein
muscley chest guy
Abbey Hope
business woman
Lacey Kohl
Missi Pile
actress with flowers
Debbie Troché
actress with videotape
Trixie, Gabriel's dog
Becky Caldwell
Kate Flannery
ridiculous writer
Ricky Ritzel
scary man
Lissette Gutierrez
woman on the subway
Kevin Andrew
stoop cruiser
Bobby Peaco
Lester Sinclair
Nat Dewolfe
gay reveller
Millivres Multimedia
8,011 feet
89 minutes 1 second
Dolby SR
In Colour
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011