Ripped from the headlines, Trust examines the seedy world of Internet predators through the eyes of an ensnared 14-year-old and her vengeful father. Director David Schwimmer (Ross in TV's Friends) trades his TV sitcom persona for a harrowing directorial turn in this challenging and provocative must-see movie that provides no pat answers and will surely have audiences talking long afterwards. With a sterling cast and an emotionally powerful performance from newcomer Liana Liberato, Trust packs a real dramatic punch, but with the nature of the subject, an ill-advised ‘R' rating and general malaise in the marketplace for challenging dramas like this, Trust will face an uphill climb for box office success. The film's limited marketing budget is an added hindrance but it's only right that distributor Millennium take it slow, let word of mouth develop and hope for the best. The time will pay off; the film's that strong.
Schwimmer has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Rape Foundation in Santa Monica, California and a solid supporter of their work at the Rape Treatment Center for years. He was inspired to develop Trust after hearing the story of a father whose young daughter was "groomed" and subsequently raped after meeting a much older man on the Internet. Using this real life horror story as a foundation, Schwimmer, whose previous feature was the unusual Run, Fatboy, Run, came up with a suspenseful fictional story about teenaged Annie (Liberato) who has a cyber boyfriend that turns out to be a 35-year-old man looking to add a notch to his belt. Oddly, she finds out the truth about him and remains smitten, causing a major family crisis and sending her mother Lynn (Catharine Keener) and particularly her father Will (Clive Owen) into fits of rage and parental self-doubt. The film never attempts to exploit the situation, even in the obligatory motel scene between Annie and the man who deceived her into deflowering. The fact that the MPAA has seen fit to rate this ‘R,' ultimately keeping away the audience of teen girls who would need to see it most, is a shame. Hopefully parents will see or hear about the film and find a way to get their teenagers to see it as well.
Owen, Keener and Liberato are all excellent in this intense outing. Liberato is called upon to do a level of acting even veteran stars don't often attempt, but she finds the core of this girl led by her heart (not her head). Owen also has lots of fire in his performance, which is perhaps driven by the fact he has two young daughters of his own. Making the best of a small role as a therapist who tries to help the family find their way out of the darkness, Viola Davis (Doubt) socks home her few scenes with sharp focus.
Given half a chance to survive in theaters, Trust could make a difference and that's all anyone can ask.
Distributor: Millenium Entertainment
Cast: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Jason Clarke, Viola Davis and Noah Emmerich
Director: David Schwimmer
Screenwriter: Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger
Producers: David Schwimmer, Tom Hodges, Ed Cathell II, Dana Golomb, Robert Greenhut, Heidi Jo Markel and Avi Lerner
Rating: R for disturbing material involving the rape of a teen, language, sexual content and some violence.
Running Time: 106 min.
Release Date: April 1 ltd., April 15 EXP.