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Toronto 2010: “Trust,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Trust,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

Nothing comes easy in “Trust,” a drama about pedophilia that will inevitably face heavy scrutiny should it make it out of Toronto, and even with Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, there’s reason to be skeptical. It is at once an attempt to deal with one of the last taboos in a way that keeps audiences engaged and it’s directed by one of the stars of “Friends” that refuses to employ the stylistic flourishes or overt moralizing that usually make such films easier to digest. Yet a lack of artistic creativity shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of narrative ambition.

Schwimmer takes the road less traveled with “Trust,” the story of a 14-year-old named Annie, who becomes the victim of an online predator after months of IMs and texts with a boy she thinks is her own age, discussing volleyball and the other girls at her school. Except that Annie never really considers herself a victim, even after she meets her virtual boyfriend ChRLeeCA in the flesh, discovers he’s 40 and the two engage in not entirely consensual sex at a local motel where her mind drifts after some uncertain protests. In her eyes, if she’s a victim of anything, it’s what happens after the act, when her admission to a friend at school leads to a search for a man she still considers her “boyfriend” that truly has nasty repercussions.

Since Owen plays her father, this would be the part where you’d expect him to double pump a nearby shotgun and get angry for her, but to their great credit, the script from Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger leaves far more ambiguity than that. (It’s worth noting Festinger was last co-credited with the screenplay for “In the Bedroom.”) As the adult most shaken by Annie’s situation, Owen goes from pushing forward with an ad campaign of scantily clad models at work to wondering what he’s done wrong as a parent when there really might not be an answer. (Keener plays his wife and hits some nice grace notes in an underwritten part.)

09112010_Trust-1.jpgTo build some tension, Schwimmer indulges in some searching for the wanted pedophile, bringing in a FBI investigator (Jason Clarke) and a psychiatrist (Viola Davis) to help with any familial trauma, but “Trust” defiantly bucks the notion of being a chase film or some sort of Lifetime movie of the week in favor of realistically depicting the aftermath of such an incident. In their anger and confusion, Keener and Owen raise their voices more than once over what to do, appearing less mature at times than their young daughter who has the insecurities of a teenager that feed into her headstrong nature. First-time actress Liana Liberato gives a poised performance as Annie, though if there is any concession to the reality of movies versus actual reality, it’s that her cherubic dimples scream an innocence that tips the film’s hand as to where it’s going in the first act.

Schwimmer also has his limitations as a filmmaker, for better or worse. Whereas “Run Fatboy Run” suffered as a comedy from his restraint, “Trust” benefits from it, usually knowing when to let certain scenes breathe and when to pull back in others. There are a few instants where a heavy hand pokes through – Owen’s internal struggle ultimately manifests into some unexpected physical violence and Schwimmer is none too subtle in amping up the score and going crazy with the editing. But by that point, he’s generated enough goodwill by respecting the audience’s intelligence to make the more uneven aspects forgivable.

Considering there haven’t been many films of note to take on pedophilia with sophistication and ample consideration, and the few that have usually try to provoke by taking great strides to humanize the pedophile, “Trust” is a bold film, just for humanizing the victims by showing their flaws and making their plight seem all the more relatable.

“Trust” currently does not have U.S. distribution.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.