Two DVDs I recently watched and found memorable enough to write reviews about: "Trust" and "The Ghostwriter".
They do have in common that both of them are "quiet" films, and both end in a way that is not your typical Hollywood-style ending.
A misleading DVD cover if I ever saw one! For the cover alone, I would have never watched this, but the description on the back made me curious (plus I like Clive Owen).
The story is simple - and sadly, common - enough:
14-year-old Annie strikes up a friendship to what she believes to be 16-year-old Charlie in an internet chatroom, and while at first she is very open about this to her parents and they have no reason to be worried for their daughter, as time goes by, "Charlie" reveals first to be 20, then 25, and when he finally manages to convince Annie into meeting up, he turns out to be in his mid-to-late 30s. Annie, shocked at first, is cleverly persuaded by Charlie to go to his hotel room where the inevitable happens: "Charlie" forces himself on the girl, who at the same time wants to be grown up enough for this as much as she is scared and hurt.
The consequences of those few hours in the hotel room not only on Annie's life but for all around her are drastic to the point of nearly destroying the entire family.
Annie is torn between knowing that she has become the victim of a crime - and sees her own fault in it - and wanting to protect "Charlie", trying to convince herself that he truly loves her and feeling (like so many teenagers at some stage do) that the whole world is against them because they don't understand.
When her parents finally find out what happened, they react very differently: her father, played by Clive Owen, wants nothing more than find the guy who has done this to his daugther and punish him; her mother wants to do everything she can to help Annie to come to terms with this.
Annie's siblings, friends and grandparents all suffer one way or another, but the story focuses mainly on how her father's thirst for revenge starts to take over in his private life as well as business and poisons every relationship: to his wife, his business partners and colleagues, and to Annie herself.
In the end, the father does not get his revenge, but he and Annie manage to establish a new closeness, based on forgiving each other and themselves for having allowed this terrible thing to happen.
The cast is excellent: Clive Owen's portrait of a father who becomes obsessed with wanting revenge is as credible as is Liana Liberato's totally realistic "Annie"; the actress was really the same age as her character at the time of filming, which hugely adds to her credibility and makes her performance so much more astonishing; Catherine Keener and Viola Davis (Annie's mother and the psychiatric nurse/counsellor who Annie talks to after the rape is found out) come across as entirely real, too. Not to mention Chris Henry Coffey, who is a convincing "Charlie" and knows exactly what to say and how to treat Annie.
Director David Schwimmer's involvement with the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica, specializing in helping victims of date rape and child abuse, means he is very familiar with the subject. Both he and his actors (Clive Owen has two daughters) state in the interviews on the DVD that they hope this film helps making parents aware of the importance of knowing what their children are doing and who they are talking to when they are online - a wise advice indeed!
There is a chilling part of the film when Annie's father, certain he has found the guy by means of a sex offenders register, is told how that man came to be on the register - chilling, because it makes clear how dangerous such registers can be, if the public has access to such information, and once a "witch hunt" is on its way, it soon carries its own momentum and things can so easily get out of hand.
Of course the connection between the film's title and the topic is obvious; all relationships are based on trust, and undermining that trust is disastrous. A serious film with a serious message, but not too painful to watch - it still is a good story, an entertaining film, with (in my opinion) outstanding performance.
This review has become longer than I expected, therefore, I'll leave "The Ghostwriter" for another post.