The Prime Gig

Mirror image. Penny (Vaughn) faces his demons...
dir Gregory Mosher scr William Wheeler
with Vince Vaughn, Julia Ormond, Ed Harris, Rory Cochrane, Stephen Toblowsky, George Wendt, Wallace Shawn, Romany Malco, Brian George, Amber Benson, Jeanetta Arnette, Shishir Kurup
FineLine 00/US 4 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Mosher won a Tony award for directing David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway, and his film debut is a similar tale about telemarketers struggling with their business and themselves. The Prime Gig is a riveting little film that gets deep into its characters' heads.

Penny (Vaughn) is the big fish in a dodgy phone-sales company, earning decent money and helping support his disabled friend Joel (Cochrane). Then the company implodes and he's suddenly recruited by the legendary hotshot Kelly Grant (Harris) to sell shares in a new venture, which might also be dodgy, but who knows? Penny is a trusting soul--and a better salesman for it--so should he really be selling his soul to a devil like Grant? Or having an affair with his girlfriend (Ormond)?

From the very beginning, Mosher's direction and Wheeler's script catch our attention and hold us tightly through to the strong, surprising, unconventional conclusion. We never know what's going to happen next--or indeed what is really happening behind all the slick sales pitches and slightly askew relationships. And as Penny has a kind of faith crisis, Vaughn's authentic, likeable performance works wonders, drawing out the moral ambiguities (and certainties) in each complicated situation. As a sheer drama, this is thoroughly gripping, engaging, entertaining stuff. As an examination of trustworthiness, it's downright stunning.

[strong themes and situations, language] 31.Oct.00 lff
US release 23.Feb.01

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall