Saturday, April 9, 2011

Trust [2010]

MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB () Roger Ebert (4 stars) Fr. Dennis (3 ½ stars)
IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert’s review -

Trust (directed by David Schwimmer and cowritten by Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger) is a timely, well written, well crafted and well acted cautionary tale about a 14 year old girl who meets someone online who terribly misrepresents himself and takes advantage of her.

The girl, Annie (played by Liana Liberato) is a quiet, still insecure freshman, trying out for the volloeyball team at a high school in a upscale suburb. In the movie the high school is New Trier High School and the suburb is Wilmette, IL. She meets someone, Charlie (played by Henry CoffeeChris ) on a teen oriented chat site who first presents himself as a 16 year old and one who _also_ plays on his school’s volleyball team (strange because most American high schools _don’t_ offer competitive boys volleyball). He gives her a few tips and whether these tips actually help her or not, she makes the team. Thus they become online friends. During the course of their online conversations, which soon extend to texting, the person on the other end, confesses to her that he’s actually 20, then 24, then a 26 year old grad student. That bothers her but continues to be nice. Of course, her parents, Lynn (played by Catherine Keener) and Will (played by Clive Owen) have no idea.

Finally, the same day as Lynn’s older brother heads off to college, she receives a text from her friend asking if they could meet. She responds, texting "?!?!" but eventually agrees. They meet in a nice suburban shopping mall. Her online friend turns out to be a mid-to-late 30-something year old man nonetheless comes dressed far younger than his age. She starts to cry, and asks "Is this a joke?" He tells her "no." She asks, "Why do you keep lying?" Here he lays it on, telling her that he _was_ worried about how she’d take his real age, but since "they _clicked so well_" and "had something _so special_" that he hoped if they only saw each other that "their age difference would not matter." Alone, sitting there in a lounge area in a mall, her initial resistance soon fails. He snowed her.

Eventually they start walking, eventually he gets her in his car. There gives her "a present" (lingerie) and tells her how much he’s dreamed of seeing her in it. Again, without physically hurting her in anyway, he’s manipulated the situation in a way that she simply does not know how to say no, or how to get out of the situation even if she wanted to. He takes her to his motel room ... And there, with the movie hinting that he video-recorded it all, he takes her virginity. Without resorting to any threat or any violence, he raped her.

Confused, overpowered by the various and conflicting emotions of that afternoon, all her parents and younger sister noticed that evening was that she was somewhat quieter at dinner than she was before. But Annie’s best friend had seen her in the mall, knows somewhat of the story leading up to the "mall date" and the next day in schools asks Annie "was that [creepy old guy] the guy???" Annie tells her defensively to mind her own business. But Annie’s friend as a 14 year old, apparently remembering past presentations given by school authorities on subjects like this (online predators, etc), goes to the guidance department of the high school to report the incident. The guidance counselor comes to Annie’s class to "to talk to her." Initially, Annie doesn’t put 2 and 2 together, but soon does because the police are there to take her statement. Annie’s mother gets a phone call as she’s running errands. Annie’s father, who works for an ad company in Chicago (that actually specializes marketing to "tweens") gets pulled out of a meeting with a phone call as well. Hundreds of high schoolers who have no idea what’s going on, see the police take Annie away in a squad car taking her to a hospital to get her rape tested. Her parents eventually meet her there.

What an unbelievable nightmare and a great presentation of how a rape victim often gets raped several more times by well meaning authorities seeking to do justice.

In the weeks that follow, Annie is given regular counseling, the counselor being played by Viola Davis. The counseling is of some help but Annie does not believe that she was raped until the FBI comes over to her home a number of weeks later to ask her if she knew any of four other girls, ages 12-15, that the man who had posed to her as "Charlie" had also groomed and raped/sexually assaulted. It is only then that Annie realizes what happened to her.

Trust is an excellent movie. Liana Liberato playing Annie and Clive Owen and Catherine Keener playing her parents are all outstanding in their roles. There are still more twists in the story that I have not mentioned here but "Charlie" is never found.

Trust is not a cheerful movie. But it can serve as a great discussion piece by parents to their children about the dangers of meeting someone online. They can truly be anyone.

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