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Review: Trust (2011), starring Clive Owen.

Feb. 15, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: The idyllic suburban existence of Will (Clive Owen), and Lynn (Catherine Keener) Cameron is shattered when their fourteen-year-old daughter, Annie (Liana Liberato) is raped by an online sexual predator.

REVIEW: TRUST is a film that should have been powerful. It has a great cast, including two of the finest actors in the biz, Clive Owen, and Catherine Keener. It also has a frightening, and disturbingly relevant plot, involving a sexual predator targeting a young girl through through the use of online social networking sites. It`s also the high-profile sophomore effort from former FRIENDS star David Schwimmer, who previously helmed the pleasant RUN FAT BOY, RUN.

TRUST is a much more ambitious effort, and one that I`m afraid is a bit beyond Schwimmer`s capabilities at this point. The execution here is far too pedestrian, and almost laughable, with this coming off at times like a sub-par episode of DEGRASSI HIGH. The early scenes depicting the daughter`s life among her high school peers are particularly bad, and are like something off a bad after-school special.

I also had a really hard time with the way the rape scene is handled. As an audience member, I was very uncomfortable during this sequence, and I feel that Schwimmer showed too much and these scenes came off as terribly exploitative, especially considering that Liberato is only fourteen years old herself. They also go a little too far with Annie's denial of her rape. Now, I`m sure a terrible attack like this would probably bring out all kinds of mixed up feelings, but having the girl constantly defend her attacker gets to be a little much. This actually borders on being offensive to people that have suffered through similar ordeals and her eventual catharsis is too sudden. For a much better look at the same type of reaction to an attack like this, check out MYSTERIOUS SKIN, which spends much more time examining the issue.

I also couldn't believe the way Annie`s peers react to her rape, with her being ridiculed and bullied by most of her fellow students. Really- is that what would happen? Sadly, I knew someone who suffered something similar in school, and she was NEVER ridiculed. If she had been, trust me, whoever would be so stupid as to bully a rape victim would have hell to pay. I also call bullshit on the way Owen's business partner, played by Noah Emmerich, immediately dismisses Annie's attack, claiming it's not really rape as she was willing. Umm, no she's fourteen years old asshole. If anyone ever said anything like that at a reputable workplace, he'd be bounced within minutes. Also, this guy is supposed to be Owen's best friend. Would any true friend ever dismiss an attack on their friend's child so callously? I think not.

One thing that also must be mentioned is the way the trailers have completely misrepresented the film, as they seem to be trying to sell this as some kind of Clive Owen revenge flick. DEATH WISH this is not, and there`s no crowning moment of vengeance for Owen as the trailer seems to suggest.

Probably the only thing that saves TRUST from being a truly horrible piece of work are the performances from Owen and Keener, who almost manage to salvage the film. Keener makes for a very believable, and caring mother, while Owen delivers a great performance as a father torn apart by the self-imposed guilt of not being able to protect his daughter. Both performances are far better than the film deserves.

Of the many films I've checked out at TIFF this year, I'd say TRUST is one of the few truly bad ones I've seen. It had potential, but the execution is all wrong, as it should have been handled with more sensitivity. Granted, it's a tough subject, but sadly, the people behind this were, in my opinion, not up to the task.

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