Trust: Schwimming with sharks



I watched Trust this weekend. A weekend in which I’ve meant to get through a ton of games, Firefly, Super and also that thing called ‘work’. I would not however swap my procrastination-addiction for anything however because it would’ve meant my weekend would have been too crammed to see Trust. Trust is a film that, I feel, would be absolutely difficult to review and yet I am with a critique corner? Or am I? You know, I’ve never thought about which category my critique corners fit into, perhaps editorial or perhaps review, and I probably never will come to a conclusion.

Trust is a film about deception on the most human level possible: trauma. It’s a film that chronicles one event and how it shapes characters and destroys them, yet it’s also a film about acceptance and guilt and perhaps… tragedy is the best way to put it; Greek tragedy probably. There’s moments in Trust that made me turn away, not want to turn away, turn away and clench my eyes. At one point I muted the screen and shook my head… when cinema manages to bleed into your psychological condition to the point where you’re wanting to take physical action then that’s truly powerful.

Yet this is a David Schwimmer film. Ross from friends has made a film so deep and rich in character, so mature and brooding, so atmospheric and adult, so uncomfortable and distressing and so… not-Schwimmer. This is a film that tackles its subject matter head on and not in a completely negative way might I add. For some time you wonder about some of the questions posed, about the nature of lying and deception. The truth will set you free… you can’t handle the truth. I get images of Alfred burning Rachael’s letter to Bruce, Batman taking the ultimate fall for Gotham City and The Dark Knight is actually a film so very far removed from Trust.

Notice how I’m dodging the question of “What’s the film about?” mostly because I’m trying to get you to go watch the film and somewhat because I still feel uncomfortable talking about it. The film’s subject matter hasn’t affected me personally, by the way, but it involves my age group and that’s enough to get me tightened up. In fact, here comes the main point, David Schwimmer has managed to make a film that defies taboo. In many ways this film is not about the right or wrong about the matter posed but rather the whys and whatnots. In short: this is a film about how human the characters are.

It’s not a meditation on modern day power a la The Social Network, nor is it an outpouring of post-9/11 commentary in the vein of The Dark Knight but Trust is rather a film about human beings. It’s about hated, lies, truth and the nature of love in the modern day. The film reeks of social commentary and yet doesn’t step out into a striking liberal attitude nor does it take a more conservative approach; it presents a message without biases. A lot of you who have seen the film will dispute that fact but to you I pose one simple question: who was the real bad guy?

Trust happens to be a feature that is deep within a very relevant and topical issue amongst society. I’ve had classes on how to use the internet properly, all of which come down to a simple “Don’t be an idiot”, and both the over-exposed manner of this topic combined with the actual nature of the topic create this sickly region which I don’t want to shift. This is a topic that, when you start discussing it in an unconventional manner, is like swimming with sharks. One little mis-step means being gobbled by a lot of teeth, yet to stay careful in this topic means to treat it as something that is simply “awful”.

Am I condoning what happens in Trust? Absolutely not. What I’m getting at is that the film’s apparent main villain shows up for twenty minutes, quite early in the film, and then doesn’t appear for the rest of the film. I don’t think the film is saying that the actions of that particularly character are the worse in the film, they’re horrific don’t get me wrong, but other character’s actions are many times more striking in their inhumanity. SPOILER When Annie says “You didn’t get raped!” it immediately brought up, in my opinion, the film’s key message: that rape doesn’t affect a singular person but rather everyone in society. Gail, Annie’s Dad, the school’s scumbag populace… everyone. SPOILER BE GONE.

David Schwimmer has directed films before, most notably the Simon Pegg movie of Run, Fatboy, Run which was… nennnehhhhhhh. It’s weird seeing him say to himself “Okay time to make a film about rape.” and of course not in any jocular sense. I did doubt Dave’s talent before but the stylish, intelligent and thoughtful approach to this sensitive subject matter has put him in my ‘to-watch’ books for the next few years. The film goes beyond a simple “Don’t be an idiot” and really hammers home the fact that Annie’s traumatic experience isn’t the only trauma a person can experience. Trauma lasts long after an event, it can last for months, and it doesn’t affect just the individuals.

Hopefully I’ve not being too abstract with these thoughts on Trust… though that’s pretty much what I do every other week anyway. I’m not sure if any of this was a ‘critique’, in fact, more of an ‘appraisal’. I don’t think that’s ever happened before and Trust isn’t a perfect film either… but it’s certainly a powerful one. Great films at the very least attempt to change your perception on something and I think Trust has accomplished that.

(Also, sorry about the less frequent posting of all of these things… life is busy but I try and find the time to write these things.)

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