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September 20, 2011
Review - " trust_ "  -  (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: David Schwimmer
Starring: Liana Liberato, Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Jason
Clarke, Viola Davis, Chris Henry Coffey

Ever wondered who your child is chatting to on their cellphone or
online? If your child has access to the internet or chat services,
watch trust_.  But be warned, it will shake up what you think you
know about who is talking to your child, and their intentions.

The spine-chilling film, directed by Friends star David Schwimmer,
tells the story of Annie Cameron (Liana Liberato), a 14-year-old
who meets her first “boyfriend” through a chat service. He calls
himself Charlie and says he is 16.

Her parents, Will and Lynn, played by Clive Owen and Catherine
Keener, who give her a laptop for her birthday, seem blasé about
Charlie, whom they have never met. Charlie begins to “confess”
that he is older than 16 – first 20 and then 25. Annie continues to
communicate with the unseen Charlie, confiding in him, flirting
with him, sending him her pictures and taking his calls, often in
what would appear to be a secure bedroom in her house, with her
family at home.

Eventually, she agrees to meet him in a mall while her parents
are away. When Charlie approaches her and introduces himself,
she is shocked and thinks it is a joke, for he appears to be well
into his 30s.
What follows is a seat-grabbing sequence of events in which Annie is lured by the man into a sexual encounter. When her
secret is revealed, an FBI investigation is opened that tears at her family’s relationships. Details of Annie’s disturbing
conversations are disclosed as the FBI tries to trace
the predator. Annie’s confusion about her lingering
emotions for Charlie is well portrayed in counselling
scenes. It is a race to find an evasive Charlie, against
the backdrop of a father’s murderously vengeful
emotions, an infatuation with a predator and
judgemental peers.

What grabbed me was that the film accurately explores
the idea that often parents cannot comprehend the
emotions of a lovesick teenager. Although Annie was
technically raped and co-operates with the
investigation, how she sees the incident and Charlie
causes much confused anger in the Cameron home.
An uncomfortable interaction between an obsessive
and sometimes detached Will and an unravelling,
delusional Annie makes riveting viewing.

Focusing more on the emotional aftershocks of the crime than its causes, trust_ is commendably aware of a culture that
routinely sexualizes girls. The work climate of Annie’s father, an advertising executive, speaks volumes: the girls
provocatively adorning his office walls - and the fresh-faced waitress that his paunchy colleague creepily hits on at lunch -
are all daughters too.

You’ve never heard of the movie trust_.  It opened in limited release in April and didn’t play in many areas at all. And, that is
the real shame of it because this is a movie that could save lives.

This is a movie for parents to watch with their
preteens and teens and there is plenty of discussion
material.  Growing up has always been hard, but
private cell phones and social media sites add a new
dimension to an already challenging time, both for
parents and for kids.  Make sure you are on top of
the latest technology, because you can be sure that
they are.

trust_ is not an easy movie to watch, particularly if
you are the parent of teenage daughters, but watch
it anyway. It's a potent reminder of the dark side of
the Internet. This should be mandatory for parents
and teenagers alike. It's not a traditional horror movie;
but as a parent, it's one of the scariest films I've seen
all year.
trust_ tries to highlight the psychological allure of
the pedophile. “I bet my dad would really like him,”
Annie tells her therapist (the reliable Viola Davis),
even as Will’s anguish is gradually elbowing
everyone else’s off the screen. The messy
exchanges between Will and his wife are the film’s
best moments, ringing uncomfortably true in a
world where electronic connection is often more
valued - and more difficult to police - than any
other kind.

While trust_ is not based on a true story, it is
based on real-life experiences. Parents need to be
aware of their children’s cyber activity.