David Schwimmer’s second attempt as a director is a strong reminder of the dangers of online networking. “Trust” is about a young girl, Annie (newcomer Liana Liberato) who lives a comfortable life in suburban Michigan with a loving family. Father Will (Clive Owen) and mom Lynn (Catherine Keener) are involved in every aspect of their three children’s lives. Their son is excited about going off to college, while Annie spends most of her time chatting with Charlie, a 16 year old boy in California who gives her advice on how to win a volleyball game. Since the subject is online sex predators, you should have guessed by now that Charlie isn’t really 16. And the moment when the much older man (he’s actually 35) meets innocent Annie inside a shopping mall while her parents are out of town will hit you like a ton of bricks. What follows not only shatters the young girl’s innocence, but her family’s emotional core as well. It’s not an easy film to watch that’s for sure, but director Schwimmer gives his film over to the solid cast, and lets them play out the genuine heartbreak and anger that occur as soon as tragedy strikes. Both Clive Owen and Katherine Keener carry out their roles perfectly well, to a level where it becomes hard to believe that “it’s only a movie”.
Unfortunately, and after a solid 60 minutes of character study, Schwimmer resorts to cheap tricks which turns the film from a shocking family drama into an episode of “Revenge of an angry father”. I’ll explain: there’s a scene where Will goes to a gun store and stares at the guns for minutes. That certainly tells us everything we need to know about what he’s thinking. The scene goes further ahead by showing us the revenge fantasy inside Will’s head. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so. I think all the story needed was a bit of honesty, without having to resort to some cheap revenge tricks. Nevertheless, the film manages to keep a hold on the emotional drama, at least for a while, and because of that, I would still recommend it. “Trust” certainly gets the subject right; I just wish the overall result is as good as its premise.