By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Howard Holloway (Clark Gregg) is a struggling Hollywood agent to child actors whose latest prospect has fired him in favor of a competitor. The same day, Howard befriends Lydia (Saxon Sharbino) a talented young actress who just happens to be in-between agents. Lydia hires Howard to oversee her deal as a starring role in an upcoming Ang Lee movie. But Lydia may just come with too much family baggage for Howard to handle.
The above synopsis might on the surface seem like a winning formula for either a charming comedy of errors, or a dark satire of the industry, but it is neither… Trust Me makes some preemptive stabs at satire early on, which leads the viewers into a darker world of manipulation and money that is child stardom. Cleverly, this is just a mask for a much darker statement about the two-faced nature of show business. As Howard Holloway, Gregg perfectly conveys the “nice guy” agent who seems doomed to failure, mostly because of his unwillingness to cut throats. Whereas Gregg’s last directoral feature was about a man who bilks people for cash by feigning Choking in restaurants, Howard Holloway’s style of choking is more figurative. It is a perfectly amiable performance which carry’s the film’s momentum, even as the movie itself sputters out of control. Sam Rockwell, who plays Howard’s competing agent Aldo is nothing short of entertaining in each scene he appears, in which he sneers like a villain and smiles like a pompous ass.
Full of well-acted and unique moments, with solid performances from an excellent supporting cast… I wish I could say that this is a better film. The satire early in the film is sharply placed, but leaves too many chances for humor untouched. The movie it at its best when Howard is struggling to make his way through the machinations of the deal-making business. By the time Trust Me reaches the 3rd act all of the biting humor is gone, jettisoned in favor of a drama involving parental abuse.
Throughout the film there is a growing theme of butterflies, which widens in scope to “winged creatures”. The symbolism is driven even further as several characters are seen literally with leathery wings on their backs. This kind of magical realism seems out of place in the film, as it has no discernible significance beyond being symbolic for the sake of symbolism.
The film’s finale takes a turn into neo-noir territory, which while certainly unexpected, is also the ultimate downfall of the film’s momentum. A few too many convenient plot twists occur, which leaves me wondering whether Clark Gregg was pondering a few too many ideas for an ending, and decided to use all of them.
Ultimately Trust Me is a misfire in an otherwise excellent career, and I would certainly look forward to hearing what else Gregg has to say as a writer.
Take a Drink: when anything with wings appears
Take a Drink: each time Sam Rockwell shows up to improve the movie (if only for a moment)
Drink a Shot: for each plot twist near the end