Tuesday, 5 July 2011

'Trust' Review

'Trust' (dir: David Schwimmer, 2010/2011), Cert: 15

'Trust' is not your typical Summer movie, nor is it one you would imagine to have David Schwimmer's name attached to. It's hard to believe that Ross Geller from 'Friends' would be able to direct such a dramatic piece, but then again, why should we doubt. It's unlikely that this film will make a splash at the box-office here in the UK, in fact it will probably only pop up in a few art-house cinemas for a week at best, but that doesn't mean it's not worth your while. If you are lucky enough to locate a cinema screening the picture, I'd suggest you take a look and here's why...

Will (Clive Owen) and Lynn (Catherine Keener) Cameron are a happily married suburban
couple living with their three children. On their daughter Annie's (Liana Liberato) 14th birthday, they buy her a new laptop as a present. Annie is thrilled and starts using her computer right away by interacting with friends online. She befriends 'Charlie'; a mystery boy who makes Annie feel special and beautiful, however her cyber-friend is not all as he may seem and after agreeing to meet him, her and indeed her family's lives are turned upside down as a tyrant of drama and distress erupts amongst them.

 Now it's common knowledge that the internet can be a dangerous place for the ill-informed, but it's important not to take this statement as total fact - something which the media does far too often. 'Trust' could have been a barricade of stereotypes and social misconceptions making it's duration a passive and dull experience, but thankfully Schwimmer did his homework resulting in his second feature as director to be a harrowing and deeply unsettling drama. The film may seem a little slow-burning for some, but if you stick with it, it's a hugely rewarding and thought-provoking 106 minutes that targets and tackles the sexualisation of minors by frowning at the advertisement industry as well as the social-networking and instant chat websites that are so frequently visited across the globe.  

 Schwimmer's direction here is much like of Michael Haneke's; it falls into the 'see less, see more' category. The predatory events that happen in this film are more alluded to rather than exploited giving the viewer that awful gut-feeling of what 'could' be happening to poor Annie. Admittedly, there are flashes of uncomfortable footage, and an underwear scene which hits 11 on the awkward scale, but for the majority, 'Trust' is a beautifully crafted character study rather than a paedophile awareness video.

Still from 'Trust' (dir: David Schwimmer, 2010/2011)

 The film's main strengths lie in it's performances which are all fantastic. If this film were to not have believable and realistic performances, it would be a full-blown flop. I'm not a Clive Owen fan; never have been, never will be. He's only ever truly impressed me twice - Once in 'Closer' (2004 - one of my favourite films) and here. He's very good at doing the 'down-and-out guy' who spends 100 minutes looking glum and knocking back booze, but here he's deeply affected by the traumatic events that occur; emotionally and psychologically. The progression of Will's anger and frustration is incredibly well presented and his drive to avenge the travesties committed against his daughter are admirable, yet somehow sympathetic. I was deeply shocked and surprised by just how good he was.

 Keener continues to be exceptional too and she acts her socks off here. Lynn is forced into the impossible situation of having to decide how to deal with their situation; she wants to be able to comfort and protect her daughter from what has happened whilst support her husband's dedication in trying to locate 'Charlie'. How can Annie possibly get over the incident if she so frequently reminded of it? It's a rational and emotionally challenging concept that Keener carries with ease.

 However, the star of the show is newcomer Liberato who was actually 14 years old during filming. Her performance as Annie is staggeringly good that's soaked with honest and raw emotion, confusion and misguidance. It's amazing how the year's two best performances have come from such young actresses (Hailee Steinfeld in 'True Grit' and Liberato herself) - these girls are teaching some of the big names a lesson. What Liberato does so perfectly in 'Trust' is to build an emotional cocoon around herself by believing that 'Charlie' actually does think she is 'special' and 'beautiful', and that his intentions were not just sexual. Unlike other, usually bigger American films, the subject of sexual predatory and rape are told through the eyes of the knowing, rather than the eyes of the innocent and perplexed victim. Feelings of doubt, self-blame and anxiety fill Annie's head and she doesn't know how to cope with them, and to be able to convincingly portray that on-screen is a landmark achievement.

 As I previously mentioned, 'Trust' is going to be tough to track down theatrically, but if you do happen to stumble across it, I cannot recommend it further or indeed higher. It's a deeply affecting and often troublesome film about a sexual attack, and an even more unsettling and tense film about the meltdown of a family. Sadly I believe this will become one of 2011's forgotten gems, but for me, it's one of 2011's best.

Schwimmer's latest is chilling and captivating in equal measure and aided by some of the strongest performances of the year. A truly remarkable work.

By Chris Haydon

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