SWORD OF TRUST – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Lynn Shelton’s Sword of Trust might be a mumblecore boondoggle whose oddly relevant narrative for our divisive times gets unraveled when it devolves into a wacky road trip during its conclusion. But luckily, the filmmaker puts her trust in her actors, especially WTF podcast star and Glow co-star Marc Maron as a sarcastic pawnshop owner in Birmingham, Ala., and gives them enough improv rope to allow them to feel like real people – some of whom we would be glad to know.

The film itself is presumably about an attempt to sell an inherited Civil War-era sword that has some vaguely incoherent documentation that supposedly lends support to a typical social-media-driven nut-job theory – namely, that the North actually surrendered to the South.

But it’s really about who we are as citizens of a country that has taken some wrong turns of late yet still has innate sense of humanity at its core. Imagine wise-guy Rick and man-boy Chumlee from TV’s Pawn Stars dealing with a lesbian couple who wants to sell the sword that sweet Cynthia (Jillian Bell) inherited from her addled grandfather. But her more hard-bitten better half, Mary (Michaela Watkins), won’t stand for Maron’s Mel low-balling them and gives him an earful. When his slacker assistant (Jon Bass, a dopey delight) discovers a coven of racist crackpots on the Internet who are willing to pay thousands of dollars for the very sword in their possession.

When this quartet of main characters is in the store, Sword of Trust plays a bit like a less-raunchy Clerks. Once they are forced into the back of a van and driven to meet their potential buyer, the four begin talking about their dreams as well as their past mistakes in what is the best scene in the movie – even if Mel says as they climb into the empty truck, “This is how people die.” Shelton and her co-writer could have made the ending something heavy and over the top. Instead, it is just four people, trying to do the best they can in this crazy world.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sword of Trust is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 12, 2019

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.