11 September 2010 | write_mich
A powerful and effective film
I had the privilege to be among the first in North America to screen David Schwimmer's latest film last night at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), with cast members including Clive Owen and Catherine Keener (two of my favourite actors) present as well as the director, Schwimmer himself.
Before the screening, the former "Friends" star provided some valuable context for the film, sharing his personal connection to the topic. It was enlightening to learn that he himself is a dedicated advocate for survivors of sexual assault/abuse and has spent a great deal of time working and interacting with the families impacted, because the film was executed with such a sensitivity and deep psychological understanding around the difficult topic.
Before delving into my review let me just say upfront (for those who are quickly trying to decide whether or not to see this) that this is a good movie, and yes you should see it.
I also went into this film not knowing its rating and I can assure you, that while the subject is very heavy and there are some disturbing scenes and some violence, there is nothing here so sexually graphic that it is too uncomfortable to watch - even my husband who I would consider to be a "sensitive" viewer did not find the film to be graphic.
"Trust" is the kind of movie that relies heavily upon the plausibility of its dialogue and the believability of its actors. If the script was poorly written or the innumerable emotional scenes poorly acted, the whole thing might have been a disaster for Schwimmer.
Instead, Kenner and Owen turned in Oscar-worthy performances that invited viewers into their home, their marriage and their suffering. Under great direction, Owen led his character through a roller-coaster of emotions that was accessible to viewers, as we shared in his character's progression through anger, grief and understanding.
Not to be overlooked, and the true star of this film, is the young Liana Liberato who plays the daughter and the victim with such authenticity that it was at some times painful to watch. Not enough can be said about how incredible she was in this film - I think the career she has ahead of her will speak for itself.
Of course, the best acting in the world would have been wasted if the screenplay was weak, but with Robert Festinger (who wrote the screenplay for "In the Bedroom") on board, you can expect a convincing storyline and dialogue that felt real.
At times, the film comes dangerously close to being cliché or cheesy like a television drama or TV movie-of-the-week. And this is almost inevitable when trying to make a cautionary drama with the underlying objective of raising awareness around a societal issue. However any time you feel the film beginning to veer down this path, it is rescued by the incredible acting and you forget once more that you are watching a film. Even the ending which I thought at first was a bit overly sentimental, quickly took an unexpected and dark turn that, for me, restored its credibility.
This is a powerful and very important film, not just for families but also for David Schwimmer's career because now the sitcom actor-turned- director has established himself as a serious and very capable dramatic filmmaker who is not afraid to take on challenging material.
I'm not sure how well "Trust" will do outside of the film festival or if it would appeal to mass audiences, however I do hope people see it, especially those who care about this important issue.
I would definitely watch a David Schwimmer film again in the future - he has legitimate talent behind the camera and should he make more marketable movies in the future, he might actually make it big as a director.
I give this movie a solid 8 out of 10. Congratulations to Schwimmer and your team on this great accomplishment. And, as a woman and caring citizen, thank you for telling this story.