Out of the Celluloid Closet

This sexy queer romcom is all torso all the time

1999 was a wild year for film—so wild, in fact, that The Criterion Channel has its own spotlight on 1999 and the wacky, genre-defining films that made that year feel so pivotal. You’ve got the obvious contenders, like Doug Liman’s cult classic Go, Spike Lee’s hilariously dark Summer of Sam, and the mental health melodrama Girl, Interrupted. But some selections are less known—onesuch gem is the Jim Fall romantic comedy Trick, a tender romcom about picking up love in the least likely places.

It’s summer in New York, and musical comedy writer Gabriel (yes, he’s aware that it’s a dying profession) doesn’t have much in the way of a love life. He lives with a straight roommate and his Jack Russell Trixie, who has a habit of chewing his jockstraps in plain sight, and his best friend Katherine (Tori Spelling) won’t leave him alone. It seems like Gabriel is destined to fall into his predestined role as a sexless Stanford Blatch second fiddle to Katherine, until he meets an incredibly hot go-go dancer at a club, and then again on the subway. The two cruise each other, and things just get more complicated from there.

The main complication is that Gabriel’s apartment isn’t exactly hook-up ready. His roommate has also brought a girl home, and they have an understanding about these things. They toss a coin, and Gabriel loses—leading him and Mark to wander the West Village in search of a place to hook up. And in the midst of that wandering, they start falling in love.

But Gabriel is suspicious. He hasn’t really picked guys up at clubs before, and he sees Mark checking out other guys on the street. Is what they have for real? Or in the words of Miss Coco Peru, the queen he meets in a club bathroom, is Mark boyfriend material…or just a trick?

It’s hard to find out when the two can’t even manage to find an unoccupied corner of New York in which to hook up. Whenever Gabriel and Mark get close to being able to f*ck, someone or something interrupts. Even Gabriel’s flamboyant, piano-bar-loving friend manages to fall through after meeting up with his ex on the street. It seems like everybody in the world is getting it on except Gabriel and Mark.

Which, honestly, is a very New York vibe. No matter where the lovers go, they can’t find a place to be alone. So they end up just cutely wandering the city, and Gabriel starts to have doubts. What he wants is something real, not just a hookup scene. Is Mark ready to offer that?

We end things on a hopeful note, with the lovers’ fate hanging in the balance. Whether or not Gabriel and Mark ever get it together to DTR, we know the connection they have is real. And more importantly, Gabriel has finally found a way to stand up to Katherine and gain confidence in his own creative work. So whether or not he found a connection for a night, or for a lifetime, we know he’s going to be okay. It’s the rare gay romcom that lets things stay optimistic and hopeful, during a time when things still felt chaotic—1999 was the year the World Health Organization declared that HIV/AIDS had become the 4th biggest killer worldwide.

We don’t know what happens to the lovers of Trick, but there has been talk of a sequel from director Jim Fall in recent years. If the film were to come to fruition, we’d meet Mark and Gabriel in their 40s, having never revisited their one-night encounter. Personally, I’m seated for this sequel. If it’s anything like the sweet snaopshot of gay life the original gifted us, count me in.

Don't forget to share:

Tags: romcom
Read More in Culture
The Latest on INTO