Release date: April 1st, 2011
Running time: 104 minutes
Written by: Andy Bellin, Robert Festinger, and David Schwimmer
Directed by: David Schwimmer
Starring: Liana Liberato, Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, and Viola Davis
Throughout the year, there are three main ways I see new films. In the theater, rent them from my local convenience store, or sign them out from my library. While this does allow me to see a lot of films, there’s also a large amount of smaller films that slip through my radar. So imagine my shock when cruising the convenience store, I stumbled across a film I’d never heard of called Trust. I looked the film up and read some good things, particularly from Roger Ebert. The film was first shown at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and would go on to receive a very limited release in US theaters before being rushed onto DVD. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s clear this film deserved a lot more recognition.
The film revolves around a young girl named Annie (Liana Liberato). Annie is just starting high school and while she seems like a confident person, she has her share of insecurities about fitting in with the cool crowd as well as feeling some sexual pressures from the other girls at school. To help cope, she’s taken to chatting with a boy she met online named Charlie. Their conversations becomes more flirtatious and sexual and after her parents (Clive Owen and Catharine Keener) go away for a weekend to take their son to college, the two agree to meet. However after their encounter, Annie and her family are shaken to the core.
As a teenager, I’ve heard a lot of preaching about internet safety. It sometimes annoyed me hearing it so much, but I did and do realize it’s an important issue. That’s why I find it strange that this is the first film I’ve seen to really tackle this issue. I was worried the film would turn into a big “the internet is evil” type film, but thankfully that’s not the way it falls at all. It deals with the issue in a respectable way and is actually about more than just internet safety. The film also deals with the sexualization of youth in the media and also looks at the way families deal with tragedy.
It’s somewhat shocking to think this film was directed by David Schwimmer. I’ve never been a fan of the show “Friends” and none of his films really grabbed my interest. I was also not aware that Schwimmer takes such an active role in organizations such as the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica. Knowing that, it makes sense that Schwimmer would want to do a film like Trust. Schwimmer directs with a sense of restraint. He doesn’t exactly show a lot of visual flare, but he shows respect to the material and creates a feeling of unease throughout. On the whole though, I hope Schwimmer continues to direct and brings us more serious films.
Probably the most talked about aspect of the film (which isn’t saying much) is the performance by Liana Liberato. I found Liberato to be very good even before the traumatic event her character goes through. She does a good job playing a character who has a lot of confidence, but also brings her insecurities to the screen in subtle ways. In the second half, after the traumatic event, Liberato brings a lot of extreme emotions to the screen. Watching her try to struggle with these emotions is heart breaking as she brings you through every painful feeling. She also handles the complicated feelings that Annie has to her situations. I’m not gonna lie, Liana Liberato blew my mind in this film and I really hope she starts getting more film roles. As far as young actresses go, Liberato ranks right up there with Hailee Steinfeld and Chloe Moretz, maybe better.
The other actor I found to be especially fantastic was Clive Owen. I’ve always enjoyed Clive Owen as an actor. He’s great at playing badasses in films like Sin City and The Bourne Identity, but can also show more emotional range in films like Children of Men. Owen is fantastic here. He starts out as your average likable dad, but becomes something else after what happens to his daughter. The character becomes obsessed with what happened and tracking down Charlie. He also goes through an intriguing character arc where he realizes that his job (he works for an advertising firm) also glamorizes the sexualization of youth. You feel just as much sympathy for Owen as you do Liberato. His obsession leads to his relationships falling apart. People around him are telling him he needs to change, and you see where they’re coming fron, but you completely understand where Owen is coming from.
This cast is full of talented people. Viola Davis has become one of the most respected actresses working with great performances in films like Doubt and recently The Help. Her role here is brief, but very memorable as a therapist trying to comfort Annie. Davis is very good here, but doesn’t try to steal the show. I think she realized this wasn’t her film so she wasn’t trying to one up the other performers. Catharine Keener is good as Annie’s mother, and watching here react differently to the situation than her husband is very interesting. Jason Clarke and Noah Emmerich both also have brief but solid roles. Finally there’s Chris Henry Coffey. I don’t want to talk about his scene too much, but he is very good in the scene.
It’s shocking to think that this year, directors I respect like Martin Campbell, Kevin Smith, and John Lasseter let me down, but David Schwimmer of all people would go on to direct one of the best films of the year. Trust is a truly great film. It’s an emotional story, but it’s also very intelligent and thought provoking. It features great performances from everybody, particularly from Liana Liberato and Clive Owen. Trust will likely continue to be ignored and forgotten as the years go by. But I’m going to remember Trust for a long time. Bottom line, I love this film.