The phrase ”gay romantic comedy” shouldn’t, by now, ring bells of novelty, yet one of the great pleasures of trick is the way that it portrays two young men falling in love as no big deal — and, at the same time, as a very big deal, precisely because of the casual felicity with which it happens. In this tart-tongued Manhattan picaresque, there are no coming-out traumas, no furrowed-brow allusions to homophobia or AIDS. The hero, Gabriel, played by the appropriately angelic-looking Christian Campbell (Neve’s brother), is a sweet, shy, aspiring composer of musicals who gets picked up on the subway by Mark (J.P. Pitoc), a swarthy go-go boy. The two spend one long night searching for a convenient place to have sex, and the ironic triumph of their odyssey is that it never reaches its goal.
Directed by Jim Fall, from a script by Jason Schafer, ”trick” is structured as an ebullient tour of the West Village/Chelsea gay demimonde. The movie has its meandering moments and its scenes that don’t quite work (it will test anyone’s affection for Tori Spelling, who yawps and whines as Gabriel’s best friend). Yet there’s an infectious comic spirit in the way that ”trick” moves through piano bars, all-night diners, and discos ruled by bare-chested heartbreakers (as well as one spectacularly angry drag queen), at once celebrating and satirizing the theatrical bravado of New York gay personality and style.
We’re led, at first, to believe that Gabriel, with his Broadway ambitions (he has written a song called ”Enter You” that sounds like it should be belted out by Debbie Reynolds), is a callow nostalgia queen, and that Mark, a solemn hunk of eye candy, represents the intoxicating sexual present. Yet it’s Mark’s hard-bodied allure that turns out to be the real deception. Both the actors are splendid — Pitoc, in the film’s subtlest performance, softens nearly imperceptibly — and by the time that ”trick” reaches its disarmingly quiet climax of a kiss, you realize you’re seeing the single most romantic moment in any movie this year.