Trust (2011) [9/10]

Trust (2011)

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.


Posted on October 20, 2011, in Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I did really like this film, but there were some little niggles I had with it. However, I really liked the way that Schwimmer handled everything, especially the trust breaking between Annie and everyone. And if I ever see the guy who plays Charlie in a film or something again, I will be probably so creeped out that I will have to turn the movie off. He is one creepy dude. Good review, man!

    • That’s Chris Henry Coffey you’re talking about, I believe. Strangely enough, he’s actually a really nice guy who’s mainly starred in American TV shows. He’s quite funny.

      I’d be interested to hear what you didn’t like so much about it. Will you be reviewing it on your site?

  2. Oh yes.
    Still, as of late October, the best film I’ve seen this year. You’ve captured why, too, which a lot of others haven’t.

  3. I just saw Trust myself the other day. It was very good 8 or 9 out of 10 for me. Best film of the year? Bold statement but I can see your thinking behind it. Whist it was very good all round a few things didn’t fit just right but I will say there was one truly exceptional moment where I thought Clive Owen was outstanding at the end of the film when he talks with his daughter outside (after a certain non-spoiler event has taken place.)

    I should also point out that it is not Schwimmer’s directorial debut. His first feature film was Run Fatboy Run with several TV movies before and after it. With that in mind he has certainly come a long way as a director and I hope he continues to work with drama more than comedy as it seems to be his niche.

    I think I prefer paedophile films that have a little more black comedy edge to them. In fact three of my most highly regarded films are deal with this subject matter. (Little Children, Happiness, Mysterious Skin.) However I do think this film was incredibly brave to take the tone that it did and produced a really heartbreaking story that shows the subject matter for what it is, wrong and devastatingly destructive to all involved. For that alone it is an important film. I would be interested if you or any of your subscribers have come across any other films that depict this subject matter with such unflinching realism or if this really is the first of it’s kind.

    Overall this film was written and delivered effectively, if not uncomfortably.

    • I have seen some films that are equally as good (or better) at tackling the tricky subject of rape and/or paedophilia, but TRUST managed to do it in a really special, new and original way.

  4. I would just like to say Im sorry your sister had to go through something like that. I’ve had to deal with certain betrayals in my own life, so i understand how it feels.

    With that out of the way, good review. hopefully i will be able to stream it through netflix

    • Thanks mate. She was pretty upset about it but got over it fairly quickly. That’s my sister, full of stoicism and tough as nails, ready for anything, even the most difficult challenges. No wonder she’s the first sibling to get married, HAHA.

      Netflix should have it available and if you get the chance to stream it, definitely do that.

  5. I didn’t click at all with this one. There’s a strong message sure, and the encounter and rape were well directed, but everything else felt like a TV movie with a bigger budget to me.

    • A TV movie? Ouch, that’s harsh. I suppose you have a point, but I have to respectfully disagree. Thanks for commenting, though. It’s nice to get some variety within the opinions.

  6. Just saw this. I liked the movie. It wasn’t just the encounter, but more so the effect it had on people’s lives. In indie movies acting almost always seems to be world class, this one wasn’t any different. From now on I especially have to keep an eye out for Liana Liberato’s future doings.
    What really struck me in this movie was the psychology of the victim who thought that he loved her and that it wasn’t rape, that’s until the revelation.

    I love Viola Davis. I just recently saw IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY where she played a similar part, but oh she played it well. This outstanding actress needs an Oscar already, so could someone please hand it to her. Haven’t seen THE HELP yet, don’t know what to expect, but maybe this could be her year…
    Tyler you know that I love Max von Sydow. Well you could say that Viola to me is the female counterpart of the Great Swede.

    P.S. Catherine Keener seems to be The Queen of Independent American Cinema. She in everything and I have nothing against it.


  7. The acting is amazing and the whole film really does keep you interested, however I just felt like there were too many times where the kid acted dumb for no reason and it also just feels a bit like something I would watch off of Lifetime. Good review.

  8. This is one of those vastly underrated films that people ignore in favor of blockbuster fare, and it really needs to be seen. I wish there were a ghost of a chance of Clive Owen getting an Oscar nod for it.

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