Pendelton "Penny" Wise is a smooth-talking con-artist who makes a living by scamming people with phoney travel comp vacations over the phone when, desperate for more fast cash, he's called to work for a shady, veteran con businessman, named Kelly Grant, in selling property for a gold mine over the phone, which takes a turn when Penny begins a relationship with Grant's mistress Caitlin, where Penny throws common sense and caution to the wind to woo her, while we wonder who is scamming who here. Written by
Knowing the subject matter of this film - shilling fraudulent "whatever's" in a boiler room - I assumed it would follow closely in the footsteps of David Mamet's incomparable "Glengarry Glen Ross" (as was the case in the over-hyped and disappointing "Boiler Room"). Almost immediately, however, it becomes apparent that such is not the case. While "GGR" gave us stark images of the salemen's desperation in the context of their work, "Gig" delves completely into the life of Pendleton (Penny) Wise, played by Vince Vaughn. It is in showing the emptiness of his entire existence - and not just his work life - that one can see how susceptible he is to the machinations of the almost mythical Kelly Grant (Ed Harris), and his partner Caitlin Carlson (Julia Ormond). From his shabby apartment to his touching relationship with childhood friend Joel (Rory Cochrane) - who is, in spite of or because of his physical handicap, an even bigger loser than Wise and all of Wise's foundering sales cronies - you know he is destined for littler and worser (hey, if Shakespeare can use it, so can I) things. Wise is, as Grant puts it, "a big fish in a little pond." His ego won't let him believe it, but ultimately experience is a hard teacher. For those who just like Harris' style, you won't be disappointed. And Ormond does manage to sum up far more emotion than she did in the pathetic "Sabrina." But it is Vaughn, as stoic as Sheriff and as cynical as Trent Walker, who draws you into his character and keeps you from guessing too far ahead. The movie is worth watching just for the last five minutes or so, from the time Grant claims, "I'm not a closer" to the rolling credits. You'll think about this one for quite a while after viewing. And that's a good thing.
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