Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trust (2010)


The first movie I reviewed on this site was James Gunn's oddball-superhero dark comedy, Super. While it wasn't a horror film, it still had enough genre connections and dark themes to stir up something inside of me that most horror films can't accomplish these days. Such is the case with Trust, which has no ties whatsoever to the genre but turned my stomach enough to elicit a genuine reaction of shock, which I believe merits the film a spot on this website.

Newcomer Liana Liberato plays Annie, an innocent and happy-go-lucky fourteen-year-old girl who has the entire world ahead over. Preparing to enter high school, Annie is dealing with the usual adolescent worries that come with age. She feels different from the popular girls at school but still wants them to like her, she's worried she won't make the volleyball team, and she has body image issues (like most frantic teenagers, she's perfectly adorable and has nothing to worry about, but can't help it at her age). Her family is nearly perfect. Her brother, who is moving out to attend college, is a sweetheart, her younger sister is one of those cute little kids who say just the right thing to make the dinner table laugh, and her parents Will and Lynn, (played by amazing duo Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) are loving and caring and have built a warm environment in their home. Annie has been chatting online with a boy named Charlie, a fifteen-year old from California (as opposed to her residence in Chicago) who also likes volleyball and thinks that Annie is his soul mate. She agrees. As things progress, Charlie confesses that he's really twenty and a sophomore in college. Soon, he confesses that he's 25 and a grad student. Though Annie is initially hurt by his lies, Charlie has a calming way of achieving her forgiveness every time. Charlie decides that it's finally time they met, and when Annie shows up to the mall to see him, her soul mate turns out to be the last thing she expected. Following a series of unfortunate and uncomfortable events, Annie is sexually assaulted by Charlie which results in the collapse of her once-perfect family structure. The rest of the film follows Annie and especially her parents as they try to cope and grasp the ramifications of the situation while simultaneously working with the FBI to catch the man who stole their daughter's innocence.

Trust is directed by Friends alumni, David Schwimmer, and while that may cause some to doubt the quality of this film, it shouldn't, as Schwimmer's previous acting gigs in films like Duane Hopwood and Big Nothing show that there are serious and dark dimensions to his personality that he was never able to express in the classic sitcom. A very personal film for Schwimmer, as some of his exes had been victims of sexual assault,  Trust is delicately crafted and plays out as a melancholy cautionary tale of sorts. The film is gripping from beginning to end and the uncomfortable material is handled with a realistic seriousness that strikes all the right chords for the viewer.

Liana Liberato is a revelation, as she plays Annie with a perfect amount of innocence and naivety. While you may find yourself wanting to smack her at times when crudely screaming and cursing at her concerned parents because she blames them for Charlie's swift exit from her life, it's this clueless and hopeful teenage innocence that makes her performance (and the film) all the more powerful. Owen and Keener also turn in powerful performances as Lynn and Will, trying to further protect a loved one that they already failed to protect. We see their home life, work life, and relationship suffer tremendously as they try to cope in their own ways; Lynn trying to surround Annie with hope and love, while Will spends his time surfing pedophile websites in hope that he can catch Charlie himself. Though brief, Chris Coffey's portrayal of Charlie is truly unsettling as he doesn't come off aggressive or cruel, but as a wordsmith of manipulation. When Annie begins to cry out of shock after seeing him for the first time, he calmly tells her that he assumed she was mature enough to handle his age because they're soul mates and truly in love. Your stomach will turn and you'll want to kick his teeth in. I can only imagine how difficult it is to play a pedophile onscreen, but Coffey definitely portrays his character so realistically, it's truly unsettling.

While this may not be the type of film that most of this site's readers would care to watch, those with an appreciation for independent films will definitely want to have a look at this one. As uncomfortable and nauseating as any horror movie out there, Trust will definitely tug on your emotions at every turn, due to great writing and exceptional performances from the cast. It will also make you think twice about the next time you buy your daughter an iPhone or laptop. If I have a girl, she's getting a fucking Tandy 2000. Hope she likes The Organ Trail.

4/5 Stars

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