Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Film Review: TRUST (1990, Hal Hartley)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: 107 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Adrienne Shelly (THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH, WAITRESS), Martin Donovan (THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, WEEDS), Merritt Nelson (HENRY FOOL, SURVIVING DESIRE), John MacKay (REGARDING HENRY, KRUSH GROOVE), Edie Falco (THE SOPRANOS, THE ADDICTION, COP LAND), Bill Sage (SIMPLE MEN, MYSTERIOUS SKIN, GLITTER).
Tag-line: "A slightly twisted comedy."
Best exchange: "Your job is making you boring and mean." –"My job is making me a respectable member of society."

"I had a bad day at work. I had to subvert my principles and kow-tow to an idiot. Television makes these daily sacrifices possible. Deadens the inner core of my being." TRUST is probably my favorite Hartley- it's a romance of sorts between two characters who have the unfortunate distinction of nearly everyone in their lives, consciously or not, conspiring to make them feel worthless. Hartley is not afraid to call a spade a spade, and his films are peppered with the harsh truth that nearly every human interaction is a pseudo-capitalistic 'exchange' of sorts. [Gimme five dollars. Let me have some beer, though I'm underage. Give me a kiss. Gimme a cigarette. Let me have a place to sleep.] Through the matter-of-fact, stylistically stilted presentation, these grim facts are alternatingly hilarious and devastating.


It's modern suburban malaise, Long Island style: the constant cleaning of rooms that are already spotless, the allotment of chores, the soul-crushing boredom and daily 'selling out' at the office, two people having a conversation without listening to each other... how do we rise above this 'safe,' quasi-abusive bullshit?

Hartley provides some possibilities:

A. Destruction. A hand grenade held in the pocket at all times..."just in case."

B. Tranquility. A mandala formed by two fallen lovers. Perhaps they've accepted that 'love' in a pure sense cannot exist in this world, but mutual respect and admiration are enough... perhaps just as Hartley doesn't let his actors smile, but he allows them to smoke?

Martin Donovan is excellent- an erudite James Dean, a twenty-something bookworm REBEL WITHOUT HIS OWN APARTMENT.

Adrienne Shelly (R.I.P.) is dangerously cute but with extraordinary depth,

balancing her steadfast resolve with the weight of crippling worries that no one should have to face alone. A profound, exemplary entry into the American indie canon and a personal favorite, alongside METROPOLITAN and KICKING AND SCREAMING. Five stars.

-Sean Gill

Availability Note: Not available on DVD currently in the U.S., it occasionally appears as an Instant Watch on Netflix, but there is a solid Region 4 Australian disc, which I own. There are rumors it will one day be released in Region 1 through the Criterion Collection.

2 comments:

J.D. said...

Yeah, this is a good one and Hal Hartley is screaming to be represented on the Criterion Collection but my fave of his has always been SIMPLE MEN if only for the fantastic scene of the cast collectively groovin' to "Kool Thing" by Sonic Youth.

Sean Gill said...

Oh yes, I love SIMPLE MEN, and it, AMATEUR, and TRUST have always been my top 3 Hartleys. I have a review of it waiting in the wings, as well.