★★★ / ★★★★
Fourteen-year-old Annie (Liana Liberato) had a sixteen-year-old online friend named Charlie. The two had been talking for two months, bounded by their interest in volleyball, and Annie felt like they were close. While Annie’s parents (Clive Owen, Catherine Keener) dropped Peter (Spencer Curnutt), Annie’s brother, off to college, Annie agreed to meet with Charlie at the mall. But Charlie (Chris Henry Coffey) turned out to be at least thirty-five years of age. Written by Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger, “Trust” was a fearless look at a young victim of an online sexual predator and how her life was changed forever. I was glad it didn’t shy away from difficult images in order for the material to be more digestible. We read Annie and Charlie’s chat transcripts and heard their telephone conversations. We saw the way naive Annie was carefully lured by a full-grown man into a motel room. We even caught a glimpse of Annie’s abrasions when a hospital staff was running a rape kit. The director, David Schwimmer, wanted to make a point: There is no shame in talking about serious and important issues like rape and other forms of sexual assault. However, the film wasn’t as focused as it should have been. Annie’s father, Will, felt like the FBI’s investigation, led by Special Agent Tate (Jason Clarke), was going too slowly. He wanted answers and he wanted it now. So he tried to pose as a teenage girl online in order to lure pedophiles around the area. That would have been interesting if the story was about revenge. But it wasn’t about vengeance. The film was about a tragedy and the pain of those affected. When the camera remained still and allowed the characters to speak what was on their minds, it was totally devastating. Like any other teen, Annie was curious about love, sex, and whatever was in between. She wanted to know how it was like to have a boyfriend and have sex for the first time. The director did a good job in letting us know who Annie was and what was important to her. So, after everyone found out that she had been assaulted, when Annie felt the need to defend Charlie’s actions, though we surely would not agree, we had a rudimentary understanding of why she adopted such a stance. There was one excellent scene where the father confronted his daughter about what had happened to her. It stood out because the father asked questions and gave comments that I wanted to ask and say to her directly. Although it was necessary that everyone remain sensitive to her plight, I felt as though a bucket of bluntness was needed to shake her into believing that she wasn’t to blame and it was okay to want to move on. “Trust” was right to offer no easy solution. Although the ending might frustrate certain viewers, it was appropriate because each case varies like an unknown pandemic without a cure.