Title: (the movie)
Writer/Executive Producer: G.A. Hauser
Director: Ilo Orleans
Starring: Eric Presnall and Gregor Cosgrove
Distributers: The GA Hauser Collection, LLC
Amazon Buy/Watch Link
Country of Origin/Language: USA/English
Rating: Unrated (Mature)
Length: 97 minutes
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Lasha
Summary: Based on the novel by GA Hauser, this movie follows the book very closely, so fans of that will enjoy this tale of two formerly straight men who fall in love with each other.
Take two ambitious men, one top LA advertising firm, add a competition for the same high ranking job. Tough, ex-LAPD Steve Miller quit the police to work in the calm environment of a business office. Mark Richfield, the glamorous new kid in the office, soon wins favor with the big boss and co-workers causing Steve to cringe in jealousy. After a crazy night in the Santa Fe desert when a team building exercise on a business retreat goes wrong, the two men share a night of passion that neither can forget.
Wrongly assuming Mark is gay, Steve is devastated to learn that Mark is planning to be married. Torn between passionate love and passionate hatred, Steve and Mark endure agonizing decision that will affect their lives forever.
I think someone’s enjoyment of this movie will depend on two things: one, how much you love the Gay For You trope; and two, how much you can tolerate cheating, as one of the main characters is engaged…to a woman. Myself, I love the former, but hate the latter, so my review of Capital Games will reflect that.
Steve is a laid-back, mellow type of guy. He left the LAPD and has been working in advertising for the last five years, climbing the ladder to success. Enter one Mark Richfield, new-hire, drop dead gorgeous with a sexy accent to boot and Steve knows his days as top dog in his firm are numbered.
Steve and Mark clash from the moment they meet. Mark is a pompous, arrogant know-it-all and Steve butts heads with him 24/7. When their boss takes the office away to a ranch for “team building” exercises, I think Steve would rather be shot than go. When a simple exercise goes wrong and the men get stranded in the desert together overnight, things turn heated. All that love-hate emotion finally bursts and they have sex. Both men claim neither is gay, and try to put it behind them, but Steve is falling in love with Mark and with Mark’s wedding looming, something has got to give.
I’ve been renting/watching independent films since 1989’s The Unbelievable Truth. Quirky, avant-garde is my thing. I was a regular at the Philly and DC’s Gay Film Fests, so I was excited to see that an M/M author was having a movie made from one of her best-selling books. On one hand, Capital Games is a great movie, the cast is talented (sometimes with low-budget gay films the acting is sub-par, that is not the case here). On the other, I had some issues with the plot, which is why I did not rate it higher.
First, the good things.
The production aspects on this film are top-notch. It is beautifully filmed, the sound and editing are perfection. You do not normally see this level of professionalism in low-budget movies, but Capital Games has that and more. The sights around Los Angeles are gorgeous and the aerial shots sublime. (Yes, I took a few film classes in college. g) Two stars for just the cinematography.
Second, the acting, as I said, is above-average. Eric Presnall won me over as the sexually confused Steve Miller. He’s so cute and his acting so believable I wanted to eat him up with a spoon! I see this guy’s career taking off big-time. And while I did enjoy Gregor Cosgrove’s performance as Mark, his British accent left a lot to be desired, so if you can get over that, you will probably like his Mark Richfield. Plus, the chemistry the two men shared on screen was burning hot. The nailed the enemies-to-lovers trope perfectly. I added another star for just them. The casting department really hit the jackpot with these two.
Now, we have to move to my reservations. While I loved the directing and acting in Capital Games, the screenplay felt unfinished and disjointed which is why I couldn’t rate it higher than 3.5 stars. I read the Capital Games book many moons ago, so I had a vague idea what the movie would be about. And while it does follow very closely to the novel, the movie does leave out what I felt were some of the most important aspects of the book, namely Mark’s relationship with Jack, his roommate, and Steve’s dysfunctional dynamic with his bigoted father, a former LAPD cop himself.
With only 97 minutes, I know a movie cannot cover everything in a book, Stephen King’s novels are a great example of that. But if I were just viewing the movie, never knowing about the book, I would have a hard time following the plot. There were many inconsistencies that were never fully explained and characters who were never developed (Jack). At times I was very confused about what was going on. For example, in a flashback scene, you see an older man pull a gun on Steve and his ex-girlfriend in front of a coffee shop. That is not explained until towards the end, when its revealed the “older man” was Steve’s dad! Now I know from the book, that action got Steve’s father an early retirement, but the whys and hows were never explained in the movie. It just hung out there confusing me.
Another example was after Mark and Steve slept together in the desert, Steve becomes this Edward Cullen-like stalker of Mark. It was a tad creepy and made me want to tell Mark to get a restraining order against Steve. Hey, I like Insta-Love plots, but this was one hand-job…not sure how you can go from that to: “I love you, leave your fiancee.” In one scene, Mark is telling Steve to leave him alone, stop touching him, then in practically the next scene they are making out in their work elevator like the previous conversation never happened! Continuity-wise those scenes did not flow together properly, so viewers who have not read the book I think would go: WTF?
Plus, Mark had some huge mood swings in this movie and while the I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you can be entertaining, this push and pull was too schizophrenic for me. Mark yelled a lot and then kissed Steve, pushed him away, yelled some more, then kissed him again. I think you get my point. It was a little too soap opera-ish for me (and this coming from someone whose pen name was taken from a General Hospital character!)
Now, I did say the movie had some hot sex scenes and it did. Mark and Steve should get an MTV Award for Best Kiss in a Movie. I do believe some tongue was involved. g The sex scenes are not for the prudish. Yes, we’ve all seen simulated sex on screen, some bad, some good; but Capital Games took it to a new level by showing Mark and Steve kissing, caressing, then cut away scenes to actual hand-jobs. Yep, you read that right, semi-erect penis being stroked. (I had to re-watch it twice to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. For research purposes, of course. g)
Hey, I did say it had hot sex scenes! So, depending on what you are comfortable with, this movie strays into the NC-17 arena. I admit I gave the movie an extra .5 stars for delving into risque territory. It felt very 9 1/2 Weeks to me.
My last niggle was the ending. I don’t want to give it away, but it does end exactly like the book. So if you enjoyed that, you will like this. But that ending was the main reason I didn’t love the book. Yes, with a love triangle, someone is going to wind up alone and hurt, but I think that could have been avoided by editing the end of the movie to portray Mark as a more caring, compassionate individual by not doing what he did! (Readers who like spoilers can email me about this!)
So, overall, I did like many aspects of Capital Games. I think fans of Ms. Hauser’s Action series will love this movie. But for the average gay-themed movie watcher, there are some niggles. Not enough for me to advise against renting/buying it, but still some reservations that makes the movie not join my Top Ten Gay-Themed Films list.
This will be my last review for the site. Many thanks to Wave, Lynn and Christian for all their hard work and allowing me to be a reviewer here and to everyone who responded over the last couple of years to my reviews.
A strong showing for this independently produced movie. A good cast and talented directing makes this movie a must-see for GA Hauser fans.