Little known as a director, but immediately recognised as Ross from Friends, David Schwimmer returns to screens with his follow up feature Trust. Unlike his debut film, the underrated Run Fatboy Run, his recent release targets a very disturbing subject matter.
Having received a laptop for her birthday, fourteen year old Annie (Liana Liberato) joins a chatroom where she meets her first boyfriend, Charlie (Chris Henry Coffey). After months of communicating via online chat they arrange to meet and Annie soon discovers that her friend is no who he originally claimed to be. It is soon revealed that Annie was in fact the target of a notorious sexual predator which tears her family apart.
What makes Trust successful is that the narrative doesn’t focus on the sexual attack, but instead the resulting effect it has on members of the once innocent suburban family. Whether it’s the daughter who suffered the attack or the parents (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) each character faces an extreme amount of emotional turmoil. The director and writers use a variety of techniques in order to best show the emotion.
At the centre of the disturbing narrative is an innocent young girl who struggles in coming to terms with the trauma she has experienced. Liana Liberato’s performance as a stereotypical teenager is convincing, but it is after her character Annie has suffered the attack that her prowess as an actress becomes apparent. A powerfully emotional performance culminates in one particular scene where she has an argument with her father. The explosive nature of her outburst is rare for film and works perfectly within the narrative.
It is hard to imagine how a father would react to what has happened, but Clive Owen’s performance offers some insight. With help from an FBI agent his life becomes engulfed in seeking out his daughter’s attacker. His blind rage, in what has happened, but also towards himself for not being able to prevent it, leads him to extraordinary lengths. Expertly shown with cutaways he begins dreaming of how he would eventually kill his daughter’s attacker.
Schwimmer’s direction isn’t completely unique, but what he does offer is a vast amount of dramatic irony. There are many occasions throughout the film where the audience are one step ahead of the characters. For example, when Annie first meets Charlie the audience knows his true intentions, but due to her naivety and innocence she doesn’t. This technique engages the audience, but also makes it extremely hard to watch as the audience know what is going to happen and cannot prevent what is coming.
The cinematography is also used cleverly to show character emotion such as subtitle-esque on-screen type showing what the characters are discussing in the chat rooms. The spectator can witness the character’s immediate emotional response to what they are reading.
While he still may be new to directing David Schwimmer does very well to offer a sensitive approach to such a distressful narrative. The result, a brilliant drama brimming with emotion.