Annie is a typical teenage girl who spends as much time with her friends as she does online. While attempting to build on her opportunity to join the volleyball team, she starts up an online relationship with guy named Charlie. Between online chatting and texting, the two have been talking for months. When he one day admits to actually being a little older than he led on, Annie gets suspicious but continues to build on their connection. Her brother’s move to college and parents’ being away for the move allows her to set up a chance to meet Charlie in person. She is shocked to learn that he is much older than he ever indicated, but after months of chatting, their established relationship helps push her toward continuing to explore their friendship. Her trust in his intentions leads her to hiding a secret that significantly changes the dynamics of her family and sends everyone around her into a downward spiral.
Starring: Clive Owen (Will), Catherine Keener (Lynn), Liana Liberato (Annie), Jason Clarke (Doug Tate), Viola Davis (Gail Friedman), Chris Henry Coffey (Charlie), Spencer Curnutt (Peter), Aislinn DeButch (Katie), Noah Emmerich (Al Hart), Zoe Levin (Brittany), Zanny Laird (Serena Edmonds)
With the family as the central focus, the producers put together a strong cast of established actors. As the central character, Liana Liberato shows some great maturity and range throughout her representation of a teenager enamored by a manipulative predator. She easily invokes the strongest emotional reactions to the scenes that highlight her progression through both the stages of her infatuation and her anger. The biggest name of the film is Clive Owen, whose portrayal of a devastated father makes one think about how they would react to their child going through such a traumatic experience. He maintains a very anger-ridden and focused search for the man responsible for turning their lives upside down. In contrast, Catherine Keener certainly expresses her character’s emotional distress over the incident and continued anguish but also shows the side of a mother trying to move forward and support her daughter. The man to cause the trauma to the family, played by Chris Henry Coffey, captures the misdirection a stalker and predator can use to gain the trust of their target and take away their power to resist any sinister intentions. Jason Clarke (detective) and Viola Davis (therapist) both perform well in their supporting roles between their interactions with Owen and Liberato.
Though the former Friends star David Schwimmer started getting big through the comedy television show, he always seemed to have more of a passion for and tendency toward dramatic stories. While this film did not get a big release and went largely unnoticed, the story is rather compelling. Annie had an established relationship with Charlie before they met in person. The backstory Charlie created allowed him to destroy her sense of caution and perspective, leading to his ability to completely stun and overpower her. The effect of the experience on her family ended up being an added pressure on her ability to come to terms with the event and start the recovery process. She exhibits the resistance a typical teenager would express to her parents but magnified because of the way she was brainwashed. Her belief that Charlie loved her created a new wall against her parents, who spent so many years building a rapport with their daughter.
The interesting aspect this movie takes is that it looks at the survivor, as well as the effect on the survivor’s parents. Annie goes from enamored to disbelief of her parents’ lack of support for her love of Charlie to destroyed by the realization of Charlie’s intentions and her peers’ abusive harassment. For Will (her father), he is clearly angry from the moment he hears about the incident. Feeling like he has lost the innocence of his daughter, he becomes overprotective, obsessed with finding the predator and blinded to Annie’s actual needs. While his intentions were certainly understandable, his neglect for his daughter clearly compounds her distress. Lynn (her mother) tries to be supportive and surround her with love and normalcy, but Will’s obsession creates rifts in his relationship with Annie and Lynn. While this may associate more gender-specific reactions to each of the parents, the trauma expressed through each of the characters is interesting to watch.
Trust is a film that dives into the progression of a predator’s hold on their victim and the aftermath of an extremely life-changing encounter. With some strong acting and compelling scenes of emotional epiphanies, this movie will move you (but the ending may not feel fulfilling depending on your expectations).
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5