Review of Trust

Trust (1990)
Beautiful funny thing
28 July 2013
20+ years after I first saw it, this remains one of my favorite films of all time. Hal Hartley's second feature is built around the same deliciously weird sense of humor as his debut "The Unbelievable Truth" -- even if the balance here tilts a bit more toward (melo)drama than comedy. Hartley has been known to explain that he felt almost as though he put Adrienne Shelly's character on a pedestal in that first film, and wanted to explore the darker implications of that.

Shelly herself (RIP) is even better this time around, and in place of Robert Burke, we now get Martin Donovan as one of the more intense, flawed, and ultimately lovable romantic leads you'll ever see on film. (I almost put quotes around "romantic," because this is not really a love story in the traditional "does the guy get the girl" sense. It's more interesting than that.) Donovan would go on to appear in five additional Hartley films, even playing Jesus Christ in the terrific featurette "The Book of Life," but none of those roles is more iconic than this one.

Between the characters and the dialogue, Hartley and his cast created something here that is wonderfully unique, humorous, and poignant. Think _Sex, Lies and Videotape_, sort of: while the writer-directors have different voices, there's that same sense of careful economy, and of wondering whether these two messed-up people are ever going to get their acts together -- and cheering them on either way.
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