Author G.A. Hauser has gained a lot of fans although some may not realise this doyenne of male-gay romance novels is a woman. Capital Games is the first of her books to become a movie, with the writer onboard to produce and co-write the script with Wendell Lu.
It follows Steve Miller (Eric Presnall), an ex-LAPD cop who’s now finding success in advertising. He feels immediate rivalry with new boy Mark Richfield (Gregor Cosgrove), who it appears may have been brought in to take on the massive account Steve has been after. As a result the men get off to a fractious start, which isn’t helped when they head off for a bonding weekend with other colleagues, at which Steve seems more interested in showing what a big man he is, rather than properly leading the team.
However, when a group of them get lost in the desert, Steve and Mark end up having to spend the night together in the middle of nowhere. It takes them both by surprise when anger turns to passion and they end up having sex, despite the fact they both identify as straight. Afterwards neither is entirely sure what to do. Steve knows Mark is the man he has to beat in order to further his career, while Mark is due to marry a woman in a few weeks time. However, neither can forget that night and Steve in particular is keen for it to happen again.
Capital Games doesn’t start out that well, unfortunately. It’s partly due to the script and partly down to a lack of subtlety in the acting, but in the early stages both main characters come across as complete assholes and it’s tough to tell exactly why we’re supposed to care what happens to them. They’re both arrogant, moody and seem to spend their time shouting and being dicks to everyone around them. Things don’t improve after the admittedly sexy first encounter, when Steve embarks on what can only be described as very creepy stalking.
For about the first half hour, the whole thing seemed to be a complete misjudgement. However when the boys calm down and actually start considering what’s going on between them, rather than just coming across as rather unpleasant assholes, things improve. Suddenly it’s a far, far better film, allowing the men to actually show off a little acting skill and to help infuse the movie with a sense of romance. It is true this is far from the first movie about two closeted men working out who they are, but after that wonky 30 minutes, it starts doing a pretty good job of it, particularly when Steve is demanding the engaged Mark admit he’s gay, even though it’s not something he’s ever done himself.
By about halfway through I’d started to change my mind about Capital Games and I really began enjoying it. It doesn’t hurt that there are a couple of very sexy sequences and even a couple of brief hardcore shots (which the credits suggest were supplied by gay porn site Chaosmen, rather than being the actual actors in the movie). The ending has a few issues, as it completely sidesteps the fallout for Mark’s fiancée and when it head in a slightly Graduate direction it comes across as more than a little over the top. However it still manages to be surprisingly effective and sweet.
Overall Verdict: It’s an impressive feat for a movie to turn itself around so completely from such an unpromising beginning, but Capital Games manages it. It may not be a masterpiece, but after the first half hour it’s a pretty good and rather sexy gay romance.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac