Chilling, compelling and devastating, this cautionary tale is so realistic and so provocative that it should be ‘must’ viewing for families with teenagers.
When 14 year-old Annie Cameron (Liana Liberato) makes a new friend online – a 16 year-old California boy named Charlie (Chris Henry Coffey) – whom she met in a volleyball chat room, she discovers a cohort, an ally against the snobby New Trier High School girls who occasionally torment her and a knowledgeable ‘coach’ who advises her how make the volleyball squad. After a couple of months of Internet intimacy, Charlie says he’s coming to Chicago to meet her, confessing he’s a bit older, a grad student. Suspicious yet savvy, Annie agrees to meet him at the mall, only to discover he’s middle-aged and far from what she imagined. Adroitly appealing to her adolescent insecurities and deceptively manipulating need for approval, he maneuvers her into his car and they check into a motel, where she agrees to have sex with him.
Afterwards, when Annie confides to a girlfriend, she discovers she’s considered a rape victim and the FBI is called in. Persistently defending her ‘soulmate’ Charlie not only to the police but also to therapist (Viola Davis), it isn’t until Annie realizes she’s only one of his many seductions that she finally seeks help she needs. Meanwhile, her anguished father (Clive Owens) is determined to find the predator and wreak revenge, as her mother (Catherine Keener) tries to make sense of how their beloved daughter fell prey to an experienced sex offender within the seeming security of ‘normal’ suburbia.
As a Board member of the Rape Foundation in Santa Monica, California, director David Schwimmer (“Friends”) and screenwriters Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger maintain respectful reverence for vulnerable young girls, and the daring plot twist of having Annie both consensual and compliant with a blasé attitude about sex lends a far deeper poignancy.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Trust” is a compassionate, engaging, intense 8, an advocacy challenge for teenagers and their parents, prompting instructive dialogue about internet safety.