06th Jun2014

‘Trust Me’ Review

by Dan Clark

Stars: Clark Gregg, Saxon Sharbino, Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney, William H. Macy, Niecy Nash, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, Molly Shannon | Written and Directed by Clark Gregg

trust-me-cast

“There is no business like show business”—and for many that is a good thing. Back stabbing, deceit, and greed are the type of qualities one needs to succeed in the wonderful world of Hollywood. This type of climate may not produce great people, but it does give opportunities for some great drama. Clark Gregg’s latest film Trust Me  provides a brief inside look into that hostile world of the movie making process.

He plays Howard Holloway former child actor now talent agent that is on the verge of discovering a breakout star. With this potential success comes a barrage of influence both positive and negative—the issue being never knowing which one is which. Clearly this story comes from a person in the know, and that familiarity gives it a genuine touch. Trust Me does not say anything about this world that has not already been said.  Instead it provides intimate context to the making and breaking of the Hollywood dream, and how the desire to seek that dream can transform anyone who touches it.

Holloway has had the displeasure of seeing the negative side of that transformation first hand, which has shaped his approach when dealing with his clients. His clientele is made up of mostly child stars looking for their big break. Unlike most, Holloway holds a true sense of responsibility for his talent. Not only does he wish for them to be successful he also wants to ensure they are emotionally stable. Not just treated like glorified cattle heading to slaughter. As one would expect this tactic causes him to lose clients to his more aggressive rivals. Although it appears his methods have finally paid off as he is about to sign a previously unknown talent onto a Twilight-esque franchise.

Deciding to focus on child stars was an interesting choice.  One might be inclined to showcase personalities like the arrogant overgrown toddler or the overly controlling mother who is clearly attempting to live through the success of their child. Gregg took a more down to earth approach. Lydia (Saxon Sharbino) better resembles your girl next door than she does the next Tinseltown starlet. Her mother is long gone and the only adult in her life is her alcoholic father.  With the lack of a responsible presence around her she has to take charge of her own life. With Holloway she finds the first person who truly wants what’s best for her, which makes what happens to them all that more devastating.

Ironically this may end up be a real life breakout role for Saxon Sharbino. Having to do meta acing—acting that your acting—is a murky talent to pull off. Sharbino plays these three dimensions with ease. Keeping her true self reserved and using her actress persona as a showcase for her knack for theatrics. She is a natural fit as she shares a strong chemistry with Clark Gregg.

In typical indie movie fashion Gregg is wearing nearly every hat possible as director, writer, and star. Gregg is his ever likable self, but that’s not to say there is not any weighty material here. At first there is a lighter tone with stark comedic elements. Moments like Holloway trying to pep talk a nervous client and faking a seizure to get into an audition provide some suitable comedy.

As the story progresses and the stakes get higher the comedy subsides as conflict grows between Holloway, Lydia, and her father’s wishes. Every choice they make can be the difference between a million dollar contract and being shutout of Hollywood for life. While the actual negotiating between Howard and the studio executives proved to be dull, the portrayal of this process display the oddity of becoming an overnight success. How the only thing you need to change about you – is everything – in order to become successful. Leaving many to forget who they ever really where.

As is the case with stardom the film too had its missteps. Mostly with what was outside the main core of the film. Holloway’s rivalry with hotshot agent Aldo, played by the ever energetic Sam Rockwell, was too much of a stereotypical move for a movie that was otherwise void of them. Holloway trying to kindle a relationship with his next door neighbor came off as an unneeded subplot. Obviously its point is to subvert expectations, yet it was never developed strong enough to reach that desired effects as the ending goes a step too far.

In effect the best part of Trust Me is what it externally represents. We live in a world where we use distance as a justification for judgment. We find glee in the life cycle of fame as it becomes parasitic force that strengthens careers only to suck the life out of them. Trust Me avoids getting involved with tabloid drama. What it does show is the metamorphosis one undergoes to become the next famous face. How success at all costs has costs, and how trust has become an empty word.

***½  3.5/5

Check out interviews with Clark Gregg and the cast of Trust Me from the films Tribeca debut right here.

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