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As many teenagers go, Annie has got a lot going for her with school and family. That changes when she meets her first boyfriend online. His name's Charlie. He seems sweet and funny, until she meets him at the mall and discovers that he's actually 35. Explaining that age doesn't matter, Charlie gains Annie's trust through smooth talk and gifts. What happens next is no one's surprise. Soon Annie's parents find out, and whatever positives she had going for her have drastically gone south.
I was going to start this review off by saying that I hated the sitcom Friends, how the show wasn't funny, that the actors and characters were annoying and that save for Courtney Cox, they've all fallen into the trap of being former TV stars and will remain such and blah, blah, blah. But after seeing TRUST, which was directed by David Schwimmer aka 'Ross', I can't bring myself to do that. It's just not the proper tone, given the film's subject matter, and how well the film is put together.
When tackling subject matter such as this, you really can't afford to have your actors screw it up. Thankfully, this isn't the case. Liana Liberato (who was 14 during this production) was an excellent choice as Annie, giving a realistic performance as a young woman whose innocence has been preyed upon and must now pick up the pieces and make sense of it all. The unfortunate thing is that the character isn't all too different from the stories you hear of teens being taken advantage of and eventually raped by internet predators. Fortunately, this makes the events that happen in the film realistic and make the film engaging as it is disturbing. Clive Owen as Annie's father Will puts in a realistic and emotional performance as a man coming to grips with what's happened, but also having to battle with becoming the overprotective parent obsessed with justice in self-defence. Catherine Keener as Annie's mom Lynn plays the supportive role and tries to keep everything together while at the same time teetering on snapping herself. Finally, Chris Henry Coffey plays our internet scumbag who you both despise and want to see get stuck in a room with Clive Owen's character.
As much as you want the film to turn into a 'Clive Owen takes justice into his own hands' type of thriller, the film doesn't go that route, which is frustrating on one hand, but all-too real on the other. This isn't the cookie-cutter type of story as you'd expect. The focus is rightfully not on Clive Owen getting his revenge for his daughter, but rather it's a realistic portrayal of a family's frustration and sadness coming to a head in dealing with the emotional damage done. I give Schwimmer props for sticking to the film in this fashion, rather than falling into the 'Hollywood' film of revenge while leaving the victim's story in the background.
Unfortunately, because of that decision, there's little in the way of a cathartic release for viewers. Again, this isn't your happy Hollywood revenge film. There is some solace in the end, but not what you'd expect. That's not a fault of Schwimmer's direction and storytelling, mind you. What is at fault are the small things. The low budget for the film, while not a distraction, is noticeable at times. Also, the decision to go the way of having Annie dictating her chats with Charlie is an annoyance, since no one I know reads aloud what they're typing or what's been typed. That's the kind of thing you do with films involving a younger audience, not here.
Even with the small problems and the lack of true closure that some folks will be looking for, TRUST is an accurate and realistic portrayal of internet predation that many folks will appreciate. The cast give an emotional performance that's a necessary requirement for this film and turn in some memorable scenes. This film isn't for everyone, but in some ways, it is.
Video: The 2.35 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks pretty good for a direct-to-DVD film. Colours are nicely saturated, and skin tones look natural. Detail is good for a DVD release, though shadows get a bit muddy as the picture gets darker.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track puts a lot of focus on the dialogue (being that it's the focus of the film). As such, the surrounds don't get as much work as you'd expect, but the dialogue is clear and free of distortion, with support for the score by Nathan Larson.
The only extras are the film's trailer and previews for other films. The Blu-Ray, however, does have a few EPK featurettes that at least add something more to the film's background.
Emotional and often disturbing, TRUST is not something you'd go into expecting a clichéd outcome. This film focuses on the victims and their struggle to get back to where they were, and not a revenge flick that many badly want. If you're in the mood for that, see HARD CANDY. If, on the other hand, you want a more realistic portrayal of internet predation and its effects, see this instead. It's just a shame that the DVD lacks the extras that it sorely needs.