Sunday, July 03, 2011

Trust…No One

Courtesy - The Sunday Leader - By Sumaya Samarasinghe 

Sometimes films are watchable, not boring, nor badly acted but simply not theatre material.Trust, directed by David Schwimmer  (Ross from Friends) is one of those. The film should be screened in schools, at seminars, public areas and on television to create more awareness on the dangers of online chatting.The film begins on Annie’s 14th birthday. She is obviously from a happy suburban home with loving parents, an elder brother who is getting ready to go to college and a sweet little sister. Her parents are Will and Lynn played by Clive Owen and Catherine Keener. He is a top advertising executive whose latest ad campaign objectifies and takes advantage of pre-pubescent girls. She could be a real estate agent, though it is never clear what job Lynn actually does. Annie who is already addicted to her Iphone is given a fancy new laptop for her birthday and she strikes up an online friendship with Charlie. He first says that he is 16 and eventually reveals to Annie that he is a grad student. Visibly a little upset by this lie,Annie quickly forgives her online boyfriend who according to her is the only one who really ‘gets her.’ The problem is that Annie is falling in love, like most teenagers  she has a few hang ups about her appearance and other minor issues, and of course only Charlie knows how to make her feel better.They begin to talk over the phone, the conversation heats up  and they both decide to meet at the mall when Will and Lynn have conveniently left town to go and drop their son at college.Annie sits on a bench wearing her sexiest dress and Charlie appears. She sees him before the audience does,and newcomer Liana Liberato gives us quite an incredible performance. She looks visibly shocked, her cheeks turn red, her eyes get teary and she finds it difficult to utter two words. Charlie is there, looking at her with a gentle smile and big blue innocent eyes. And of course, we are not the least bit surprised to see that Charlie is as old as her father and when Annie seems hesitant and disappointed, he brightly talks her into going for an ice cream and manages to convince her to leave the mall with him while Annie’s best friend Brittany anxiously watches from one of the stores. Next scene, they are in a hotel room and Annie comes out of the bathroom wearing the matching bra and panties that Charlie has bought her.
moreHe compliments her on her body and a petrified looking Annie does not move while he sexually assaults her and films his gruesome action. Schwimmer blurs the image, fades to black and in the next scene,Annie is seated at table looking like an angry pouty teenager.The entire rape could have gone unnoticed if Annie had not mentioned having had sex with Charlie to Brittany. Worried and concerned for her friend, Brittany reports it to the school principal and Annie’s life is turned upside down. She finds herself in the midst of an FBI investigation of a serial pedophile rapist and discovers for the first time the meaning of statutory rape. But like most girls her age, admitting that she misjudged the situation does not come easily and instead she develops a defensive attitude, completely denying that she was raped and taking Charlie’s side, a typical case of Stockholm syndrome. The parents deal with the situation in a different way. The mother is calm and loving, but the father isn’t sure how to process his rage. He becomes obsessed with catching the serial rapist and begins to fall apart. In a very good scene, Clive Owen who is a gifted actor explains to his boss that he has been a little absent minded at work because of Annie’s situation.At first the boss is shocked and offers sympathy to Will, but when he hears that she was assaulted by a man with whom she was having regular chats, his reaction is totally different and he says : “ I thought you meant she was raped”.Schwimmer does not show any outstanding directorial skills. The shots are simple, the experienced actors are brilliant, Liana Liberato who plays Annie gives a flawless performance, but the film lacks punch because of its predictability. One has to appreciate though, that Schwimmer has not tried to squeeze out a happy ending from somewhere or another, how can there be one anyway when a child is raped?
After watching Trust, a parent will probably want to cut internet access and mobile phone usage from their chat addicted children, but in this day and age such a form of control is close to impossible. Instead, Trust should be used to create awareness about what could happen if contact is established with the wrong person. Watch the film until the credits roll as a key moment of the story takes place during that time.