Director: David Schwimmer
Cast: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Viola Davis
My Rating: 9/10
In Short: Powerful Depiction of Personal Destruction
While I was watching David Schwimmer’s Trust, I recalled something that happened to my sister when she was 17 or 18. She had been out partying with a bunch of friends, and they were all drunk and driving around; they were celebrating something, though I don’t remember what. One of the girls thought it would be a good idea to throw my sister out of the car and onto the street and then drive away. I dunno, one of those things that sounds like a good idea when you’re drunk. My sister was scared shitless. She staggered home, in fear. It was 2 in the morning. When she got in the door she was cold and in tears, but unhurt. She woke up the whole house. It was a strange kind of drunken fear. I don’t know how far she’d had to walk to get home, but it was obviously a long time.
This memory, which I had not thought about for a long time as it was never a significant event and when she sobered up she had pretty much forgotten about it, was triggered in my memory, as her trust of the people she had known so well was broken, much like the protagonist of Trust is betrayed by someone close to her.
Trust is actor David Schwimmer’s directorial debut. He directs the talents of three amazing actors: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener and the unheard-of but extremely talented Liana Liberato (who may just have the most awesome name ever, if it is her real name, which I doubt.) Liberato plays Annie, a 14 year-old girl who has struck up a relationship online with a boy named Charlie. At first she thinks he is a 16 year-old volleyball player. Then he confesses he is 20. Then later he says he’s actually 25. And when they finally meet, we can see obviously that he’s in his mid-30s. Shortly after they do meet, he coaxes her into wearing nothing but revealing lingerie before moving on top of her and raping her in a dark hotel room.
Most films of its kind would be concerned with the act of rape itself, but Trust is not. In fact, in the days following the event, it is a while before Annie even thinks of it as a rape. Just rough sex that maybe happened a little too fast but was bound to happen anyway. It is not until much later on she realizes how wrong she is and what a sick fuck Charlie really is. She has this idealized image of him: he is a man who gets her, who understands her, in a manner much more personal and desirable than her parents, who obviously love her but fail to show it, especially following the shock of discovering her rape.
Clive Owen gives an unforgiving, powerhouse performance as Annie’s father, who becomes obsessed with tracking the pervert down and beating him ruthlessly over and over. Or shooting him repeatedly in the face. Either one of those would work, he thinks. His obsession grows to the point where little else matters. He neglects his daughter except when asking her personal questions about the rape. He goes to the chatroom his daughter used, and pretends to be a vulnerable teenage girl to see if he can attract the same predator. He steals files which reveal the conversations Charlie and Annie had, and as he looks through them we realized the extent to which they were involved with each other, including using explicit language and sending graphic pictures.
But this is not some rape-and-revenge thriller. There is no bloody retribution. Sure, the cops search for Charlie, but think about it: in the real world, where criminals like him are smart, what are the odds of them actually finding him? Exactly. The film doesn’t concern itself with Charlie actually being found; it focuses on the repercussions of an unspeakable act, and how it changes people.
Schwimmer does not shy away from presenting the facts: this happens a lot. All over the world, paedophiles are connecting to children through chatrooms, meeting up with them, and then removing all of their innocence with each sick, unforgiving penetration. We learn that “Charlie” has done this before; he has conned children as young as twelve into having sex with him. We see a photo of the 12 year-old he raped and the kid looks years younger. I don’t know much about the statistics of rape, but I would be certain that there is a questionably high amount of children being raped regularly, both by people they know and people they don’t.
But the rape isn’t even the worst of it. After being physically raped, Annie is again torn apart, this time emotionally, by the consequences of the act. Gossip spreads around the school and Annie is labelled a slut online. Her trust is again ripped apart by those she knows, and the only one she can trust is a psychiatrist who cares but not enough to do anything more than examine her mind and ask pointless rhetorical questions. By the end of the film, the viewer will too feel like, that in some sense of the word, they’ve been raped as well. Schwimmer puts us into Annie’s mind as she mentally and physically breaks down, lashing out at the world around her for becoming so fascinated and interested in the details of her attack. Police want to know when, where, why. She is metaphorically attacked by them, as all they do is ask her questions and rarely offer her any peace of mind or solace. No, leave that up to the psychiatrist, they think. Sure, the police try as hard as they can to catch the man, but at the end of the day what’s really disturbing is how easily he’s getting away and how inevitable it is for him to do it again. And again.
Trust is a very, very well-made film. It is inarguably one of the best of the year. It is the most powerful, relevant depiction of the way people are so ceaselessly deceited and tricked, and is a must-see for all people: parents, children, and just the general public. It is one of the most powerful pictures of recent times.