24th Jul2011

‘Trust’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Liana Liberato, Chris Henry Coffey, Catherine Keener, Clive Owen | Written by Andy Bellin, Robert Festinger | Directed by David Schwimmer

Trust-cast

Though he has to some extent established himself as perfectly capable of directing with his work on Friends and Simon Pegg rom-com Run Fatboy Run, a hard-hitting and serious drama about rape is perhaps not the first thing you might expect from goofy Ross Gellar himself, David Schwimmer. Before even a frame of film rolled, I had to tip my hat to the man for taking such a bold decision. It is pleasing then, that the film is of such high quality.

Trust introduces us to an all-too happy family. Middle child Annie (Liberato) is constantly glued to her laptop or her smartphone, chatting online. Her attention is mostly devoted to a friendly boy who claims to be twenty. Annie becomes concerned, but not scared off when Charlie (Coffey)’s age incrementally creeps up and up through a series of horribly manipulative conversations (the full disturbing extent of which is revealed later in the film). Annie eventually agrees to meet Charlie who is shown to be in his mid to late thirties. Rather than running for the hills, Annie is lured by Charlie back to his hotel room, where, in a state of shock, he rapes her. The film deals with the aftermath of this and how Annie and her family are affected by this horrible crime.

It hardly needs stating that the film is far from an easy ride. There’s an overwhelming sense of horror and heartbreak throughout the story. Perhaps most affecting is moment when mum and dad (Catherine Keener and Clive Owen) learn what has happened to their daughter in the uncomforting waiting room of a hospital. Despite the presence of an FBI procedural, this isn’t a film concerned with tracking down the culprit, moreover, we bear witness to the potential destruction not only of a suddenly fragile individual but also of her relationship with her family.

The central trio of Liberato, Keener and Owen all give truly excellent performances – Liberato in particular does an exceptional job with a very difficult role. If the similarly youthful Jennifer Lawrence got an Oscar nomination for her part in Winter’s Bone, then it would be criminally unfair for Liberato not to be likewise recognised. Owen is also outstanding as Will – his character does become somewhat one-note as the film progresses, but Owen overcomes this. Guilt at failing to protect his family drives his character’s anger, but a feels responsibility on another level. He works for an advertising company, which in a wholly unsubtle though entirely warranted criticism of American Apparel, has designed a campaign that features very young women wearing very little clothing. Will wrestles with the idea that he is aiding the sexualisation of young women and thus very loosely responsible for his daughter’s rape.

The film is not perfect – it is at times very televisual and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the portrayal of Charlie the paedophile as an out and out predator. Though their actions are obviously reprehensible and horrible, as I understand it, these people are sick rather than out and out evil and need rehabilitating. Charlie’s character was too broadly constructed for my liking, which meant the film occasionally came across as a little scare-mongery.

I do think that the film’s heart, however, is in the right place. It is an honest film with a series of great performances, captured by a skilled director. One can imagine that anyone affected by the events the film depicts in real life might take some comfort in the eventual redemption the characters find, through their love for each other rather than through something as simple as vengeance or even justice. Trust is a bold, brave and remarkable film and certainly a highlight of the year so far.

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