Isn’t technology grand? We live in a communication age that is unprecedented in human history. We carry devices, or at least most of us do, that provide the world at our fingertips on machines no larger than our palms. The internet allows us to have a world of information at those same fingertips. We do business over the net. You are reading a movie review over the net. But technology does have its problems. Cell phones mean distracted drivers and more accidents. Teen chat rooms mean that we can no longer guard our homes from the invasion of evil. Trust takes an intense look at just such an invasion and reminds parents just how powerless they are to protect their children. It’s a sobering story that isn’t presented here to entertain. Consider it fair warning.
Annie (Liberato) has just turned 16 and in all outside appearances she’s a very typical 16-year-old girl. She has loving and engaged parents. Will (Owen), her father, is a big-time executive at an advertisement firm. Lynn (Keener), her mother, is a real estate seller. She has a brother Peter (Curnutt) who is about to leave for college. For her 16th birthday her parents bought her a new tricked-out laptop. This is her portal to the outside world and her chat friend Charley (Coffey). Charlie is a high school junior who gives her some great advice on making the volleyball team and on life in general. He seems to be the only one in the world we really understands her. So she’s taken a little off-guard when he finally admits to being 20. Of course, the age begins to get older until they finally meet in secret at the mall. Now he’s clearly in his mid-thirties but manages to convince her that he’s still the same Charlie with whom she’s shared so much. While she’s a bit nervous, he wins her over and eventually up to a hotel room to model some sexy lingerie he’s bought for her. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s really going on here. Annie is in over her head, and Charlie takes full advantage of the situation.
When one of Annie’s friends tells school officials what has happened, her parents are devastated. The authorities get involved, and it’s soon discovered that Charlie’s DNA is in the system from previous rapes. The relationship between Annie and her father becomes quite strained. Annie thinks Charlie loves her and wants to protect him and believes her father is merely driving them apart. Of course, he wants to be able to do something and starts his own investigation to find Charlie. This once-ideal family is driven in all directions away from each other until a tragic decision by Annie might just bring them all back together.
Who would have thought that Ross from Friends, David Schwimmer, would be capable of directing such a serious motion picture. It certainly wouldn’t have been top on my likely-to-happen list. But direct he does, and he manages to do an impressive job of it. There are so many ways that a film like this can go wrong, and Schwimmer managed to avoid them all. The rape scene is treated with particular class. Schwimmer uses subtlety without taking away from the horror of the event. I can’t imagine a better approach. At almost every turn he keeps the film on track and away from the titillating distractions you would expect in a more Hollywood piece.
Much of the conversation online between Annie and Charlie is delivered through sub-title-like text on the screen. At first I thought it was an annoying choice that was going to turn this into some light-hearted gimmick film. Before too long I was convinced it was indeed an effective way to get us the information without a narrative or unnecessary exposition.
The true work of art here is found in the cast. Clive Owen plays wonderfully against type here. We’ve seen him in enough action-adventure films that I expected a much different outcome for this character. Once he started the investigation, I was waiting for him to become one of those one-man armies and track down this scumbag with the inevitable carnage that such a mission always entails. Schwimmer knows we’re waiting for this, and he teases us that such a journey is coming but it never does. He maintains a more grounded film by showing Owen as a father who certainly wants to do those things but is brought under control when he realizes that his obsession is driving away his wife and daughter when they need him the most. Catherine Keener appears to have had a cold during production, and so her line delivery isn’t quite as powerful as it was supposed to be. Credit Keener or Schwimmer or both for using the disability almost as an advantage. I think my perception of her being weaker has to do with my own point of view. I genuinely believe that men and women are wired very much differently. To me, the more natural position was the anger and desire for revenge that Will expresses, but my wife assured me she was firmly in Lynn’s camp which was to nurture and heel. Obviously, my own personality made me identify with Will. I think that this is something you’ll find in your own households. It’s my theory that most of you guys out there are going to want to see this guy get what’s coming, while you ladies will be far more concerned with the daughter’s emotional trauma.
The clear winner for compelling performance, however, is that of Liana Liberato. It’s her very first film role after pulling off a few roles guesting on various television shows as House, CSI:Miami and Cold Case. There’s nothing outstanding about the performance except for how real and emotional it was. I never once got the impression this was a performance. Her situation becomes quite real, and it kind of makes for a disturbing film. This is a character that goes through a great range of emotions in a very short time. Her relationships get incredibly complicated, and it appears so seamless to me here. She was a great find and quite possibly the difference between an effective movie and a disaster.
Trust is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 23 mbps. There’s nothing about this high-definition presentation that’s going to knock your socks off. Colors tend to be low-key, and the film has a dark hue to match the dark material. There is nice sharpness and detail here, but Schwimmer avoids the temptation to try to overpower the image. It would be a distraction. Black levels are fair. It’s far from the sharpest image I’ve seen, but it’s clean and the print is in pristine condition.
The Dolby Digital True-HD 5.1 is intimate. Don’t expect the surrounds to offer anything more than subtle ambients and a few directional tricks. This one is all about the performances, and that comes out just perfectly in this sound design.
All extras are in Standard Definition.
Outtakes: There are 9 and there is no play-all function.
Between The Lines: (16:45) Cast and crew talk mostly about the issues the film addresses.
This is not an easy film to watch, but it is a compelling one. It’s a scenario that dominates every parent’s nightmares, and with good reason. The scariest things we are confronted with are those that happen all of the time. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening right under our noses. It’s in our towns. It’s in our schools and churches. And, thanks to modern technology, it could be right there in our homes. Will you know before it’s too late? “Nothing’s ever going to be the same again.”