Saturday, July 30, 2011

On DVD: David Schwimmer's TRUST is worth seeing despite its surprising flaws

Among his other credits for acting, directing and producing, ex-Friend David Schwimmer, directed one of the funniest, darkest and most insightful of high-school reunion movies, Since You've Been Gone back in 1998. Since then he has directed for TV and cable, given us the so-so theatrical release,  Run, Fatboy, Run, and now he's back with an unusual and semi-dark drama called TRUST, about a teenage girl and the online relation-ship in which she becomes involved, what happens because of this, and how she, her family and friends react to it all.

This proves very tricky territory, but Schwimmer (at left), his writers (Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger) and his cast negotiate much of it quite well -- showing us how this relationship grows, what it means to the young girl (a standout performance from relative newcomer Liana Liberato, below and further below), and how the importance of the film's title plays into the innocence of our heroine, allowing her to be taken advantage of in grueling ways that do not immediately become apparent to her, those around her -- or to us.

Trust is, first of all, a family movie -- a movie about family, though not necessarily one that you'd want the entire family to see. Although, I think it might be wise to have any family member old enough to be using the computer and the internet view the film, so long as family discussion between the adults and the kids follows the viewing.

There will be plenty of pros and cons about the behavior of the parents, as well as that of the girl, Annie, and why she acts as she does -- both before and after the central event that the movie posits. Thanks to the skills of writers, director and actress, this works surprisingly well, keeping us ever in the mind and the heart of Annie.

What works less well are mom and dad -- as played by the usually fine Catherine Keener (below, center, and wasted here in a fairly rote role) and the always sturdy/studly Clive Owen, above, who is given the kind of near-ridiculous behavior to portray that no amount of "acting" can surmount. Coming from a fellow who initially appears to love his daughter, his conduct is simply a no-go -- making the film's feel-good finale faintly annoying, rather than the moving moment for which the filmmakers clearly hoped.

Besides the wonderful Ms Liberato, the film's other "ace" is to be found in the creation of the character of Charlie (which is imagined nearly as well as that of Annie) and the performance of Chris Henry Coffey in the role (he is shown below, with Ms Liberato). We only see Charlie in two scenes in the film, but both are pivotal, and the final one is quietly and doubly revealing.

I wish Trust were a better film, but it is still an important one -- with a message for kids and families that really needs to be seen/heard. It's available now on DVD for sale or rental.

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