Movies continue to adapt to the scope of changing times in a way that reflects current crisis within their plot lines. A story that revolves around a teenage girl befriending an internet stranger in an online chat room would have been irrelevant to someone just a decade or so ago, but ‘Friends’ star David Schwimmer demonstrates this chilling concept with the 2010 movie “Trust.”
The story sets its focus on the aftermath of a sexual assault that occurs on a 14 year old girl, and the strain it then bestows upon her entire family. It stars a handful of people, but the central focus is Will Cameron (Clive Owen) and his daughter Annie (Liana Liberato).
Clive Owen is a great actor, playing perfectly as a maverick outlaw in “Sin City” as well as leading roles in “Derailed,” “Inside Man,” and “Children of Men.” Surprisingly, the real star of the film is Liana Liberato who, despite being just 14 at the time of filming, conveys perfectly the emotions and demeanor of a typical high school wallflower.
Will and Lynn Cameron (Catherine Keener) are the cool parents we all would covet; easy to talk to, understanding, and modern in their rational. Will gives Annie a laptop for her birthday, and its serves as part of a blame game of struggles for him later as its this very gift that facilitates the horrific encounter.
We all forge online relationships – various social media sites let us connect with people of all genres anywhere in the world and when Annie meets Charlie, an easy going high school volleyball player from Los Angeles, she instantly forms a bond. That she lives in Chicago and has never actually met him in person but still refers to him as her boyfriend is something the older generation may scoff at, but this is the norm for today’s youths – stemming from isolation and life in a virtual world.
As a typical millennial teen, Annie lives with her face in her phone (or computer screen in this case, remembering 2010 is the final days before the explosion of smart phones).One telling scene shows Annie taking dozens of selfies before finding one she thinks she looks best in to send to Charlie. For the god and the bad, social media and an online presence display only what we choose to give.
One of the interesting ways the movie is displayed, is by showing glimpses of Annie and Charlie’s conversation juxtaposed on screen, and we watch as a typical textual relationship begins. Lots of LOL’s, smiling faces, and abbreviated words (U, brb) are used to show the obvious excitement building up in Annie. That Charlie claims his camera phone is broken and thus unable to video chat may be a red flag to the viewer – but to a teen girl who thinks she has found a boy that really gets her its just a minor inconvenience. That he later confesses to her he’s not a teen but really 20 years old, and then 25, doesn’t phase her at all.
Clive Owen has an intriguing role as Will Cameron. The father/daughter relationship is a strong bond, and Will makes his living as an advertisement executive that deals with a line of skimpy clothing for teens. Sexual images are around him everyday, but until his own family is hit, he (like most of us) just pay no mind. “This is a clothing ad?” He jokes at one point before signing off on a new campaign. “Why isn’t anyone wearing a shirt?”
Will and Annie have a great relationship, and one that is built around the titular trust. Will is watching Annie message with Charlie at one point, and Annie enters PWOMS in the chat (Parent Watching over Shoulder). Will doesn’t get angry, he simply understands that this is now a new part of teenage life, and he trusts that his daughter will be smart and safe. “Can you go talk to mom about mortgage payments or something?” Annie replies when Will cracks a joke, demonstrating that she unfortunately has trust in the stranger she is conversing with on the other side of the screen.
David Schwimmer was my favorite character on ‘Friends’ and is proving to be a fantastic behind the scenes player in Hollywood. “Trust” is the second film he has directed, and his recent co-staring role in the miniseries “The People vs OJ Simpson” is remarkable.
Here, Schwimmer manages to avoid the typical pitfalls of a movie of this ilk. Rather than focusing on the police pursuit of the bad guy, he chooses to showcase the unraveling of the family in the wake of the tragedy.
“Trust” is a good movie. Its one that exercises the viewers restraint in its reality and also keeps the suspense of a movie.
by – Matt Christopher