Everybody likes Tom Hanks, right? Well, I think the crowd's more divided on David "Ross from Friends" Schwimmer, and yet a couple of days after I reviewed Hanks' latest, I saw Schwimmer's most recent directorial effort, which is entirely the anti-Larry Crowne. If one is a film that is completely inoffensive to the point of tedium, the other one is Trust.
Clive Owen plays Will Cameron, an ad man who dotes upon his 14-year-old daughter, Annie. Will buys Annie a new computer for her birthday, through which she is able to more regularly chat with her online penpal, Charlie. He's a 15 year old from California, who then admits that he's 20. And then 25. When Annie agrees to meet up with Charlie, both she and Will are rocked to their core, and their relationship may never be the same again.
It's necessary to say at this point that it's best to know what you're getting into when you watch Trust. While I shall endeavour to remain as spoiler-free as usual in the course of my review, it's wise to read around the film first so you don't go in expecting another Run Fat Boy Run. Trust is a bold and harrowing departure for Schwimmer, with an ambitious approach to the subject matter of statutory rape. While vested in the kind of new media anxiety that has previously lent itself to horror flicks like Chatroom and Untraceable, the approach is very mature.
Clive Owen, of whom I've occasionally been dismissive in the past, rises to the occasion admirably, as a dad who is burning with righteous anger and yet finds himself powerless. Although the situation makes it the kind of role that Harrison Ford, or more recently, Liam Neeson would take, it's a great Clive Owen role because it's more subdued than either Ford's or Neeson's previous characters. Owen takes Will to some dark places- the kind of places that will make the film a deeply unattractive prospect to the fun-loving multiplex crowds.
And yet Trust is a film that deserves to be seen; if not for Owen's performance, then for the startlingly brilliant acting debut from 15-year-old Liana Liberato. It's a tough task for any young actress to take on this role, but Liberato is not merely equal to the task- she's excellent. As we see Annie suffer, it has so much more gravitas for the fact that the performance is so believable. Early scenes that focus more on her character than on Will show us the reasoning behind her actions, so that as fallible as she is, she's understandable as a character.
The father-daughter relationship is superbly written, with the duality of Will playing into the equation and allowing Schwimmer, Bellin and Festinger to ponder some interesting questions about the way rape victims are perceived. Annie courts Charlie in those early scenes, little realising who he really is. It's the reaction of one of Will's colleagues to that nugget of information that really surmises the tone of the film, and explains that title. Can Annie ever truly trust anybody again?
Trust is showing from Friday in select cinemas nationwide.
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I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.