Trust (1990) Poster

(1990)

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10/10
My Favorite Movie Of All Time
david-a-goddard30 July 2010
I first saw this film in 1990 while I was in college and I loved it. I watched it over and over on VHS. I told everyone that this was my favorite movie of all time and watched every Hal Hartley movie I could find. Last night I stumbled across Trust on Netflix Instant and I thought I'd check it out to see if this film that I was so passionate about when I was 20 years old held up over time or if the 40 year old me would find it silly or dated. To my surprise I was blown away all over again by how ridiculously great it is. The smart stylized dialog, the music, the starkness, the silences, the camera framing, all of the whacked out but fully human characters, Martin Donovan and Adrienne Shelly so young and beautiful. As the final, simple, beautiful, frame of the film disappeared and credits rolled I was left sitting on the couch in a state of shocked amazement at the effect this film still has on me. Hands down my favorite movie of all time!
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9/10
Years later and this movie still get me
john_bonsai28 March 2006
I had the honor of viewing this, one of Hal Hartley's first films, last night. This being 2006, needless to say it has been some time since my first viewing of this very special film. This is the kind of movie that I recommend to certain friends and younger people I know (I first viewed it when very young). So many moments sit in my mind unnoticed until another viewing years after the last. An amazing tale of growth and awakening in a world that often does not present itself as being conducive to growth. The dialog is pure Hartley (if you are unfamiliar with his films I would recommend this as a good place to start). Halfway between John Hughes and Samuel Beckett. The actors portray their awakenings delicately and with precision. Please see this film!
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8/10
Low-key Hal Hartley, view at least twice or don't
Per_Klingberg26 April 2003
I didn't understand it right after the first viewing, but 'Trust' certainly is of Hal Hartley's finest works, excelled only by the somewhat more conventional drama 'Henry Fool'. As with many other of Hartley's earlier works, it takes a while to let the film sink into you. But with the second viewing one starts to appreciate the film's subtilities, both the dry absurd humour and the fine, deeply compassionate portraits of the characters.

The story starts up with a scene typical for Hartley: rebellious teenager Maria Coughlin informs her parents that not only will she drop out of high school, she is also pregnant. A quarrel takes place, and when her father calls her 'slut' she slaps him in the face. He drops down dead. The movie can begin.

Things get ugly for Maria. Her boyfriend, a chauvinist pig, leaves her when she informs him that she's pregnant, claiming he's not the father anyway. And at home her mother waits for her and coolly claims that since Maria's killed her husband, she is now forever in her mother's debt and have to work for her. Never again will she do housework... This is when she meets up with Matthew Slaughter, a truly gifted engineer but with a somewhat sociopathic behaviour, and filled to the brim with anger and hatered.

Martin Donovan truly does an outstanding portrait of Matthew, and perfectly manages to forge his paradoxal feelings of extreme anger and vulnerability into a fully working unit.

A deeply moving story of two scarred, somewhat maladjusted souls manage to find each other, told in a low-key mood that doesn't get to you immediately. But eventually it does, and when it does...you're hooked.

8/10
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10/10
I Really Like This Movie!
dennisdread_200024 October 2005
I stumbled across this movie about midway through on IFC one morning...I was hooked! I couldn't look away. I had to see it from the beginning, all the way through, as it was meant to be viewed. I studied the IFC programming schedule well into the future in order to see this movie again. Eventually I did. Several times. And even now I'm still haunted by it. Some films don't stand up to repeated viewings very well however this one does.

This movie has moved me as much as any movie ever has in my life. Do a friend a favor, turn em on to this one, but don't tell them ANYTHING about it beforehand(need that really be said?), let em experience it for themselves. My next goal is to own this movie in some form or another one day. It'll be a welcome addition to my collection.
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10/10
Unique Gem of a movie
tomrito13 December 2003
Trust me, this is one of the best made movies of all times. I cannot believe that more people don't know about this movie. It has a great story, brilliant acting and it's really funny. This is like the best Inde movie ever. But just see it for yourself and if you like it tell someone about it, because although it is a small film, it is great American art and should be recognized.
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Hal Hartley's signature film
george.schmidt23 April 2003
TRUST (1990) *** Adrienne Shelly and Martin Donovan shine as a pregnant, naive teen who is befriended by troubled loner-type, respectively, in this sharply written satire/black comedy/and at times gimmicky bloodless acting (but that's also the warped appeal) that brings into question the monotony of dreary jobs, thankless relationships and bad parenting. Directed by Hal Hartley in his signature solemnity.
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9/10
simply brilliant!
Prigmatus7 March 2014
I saw this one when I was working in a small movie theater as a student back in 1991 in Leuven, Belgium. I cannot explain why but this little gem of a movie touched me and I fell in love with all the characters (specially the main ones played by Adrienne Shelly and Martin Donovan), the modest soundtrack (loved the synthesizer score at the end), the dialogs, the humor mixed with social and realistic situations. Now, 23 years later, I had the chance to rediscover this movie by accident through a local internet movie site and honestly, after having seen hundreds of movies in all genres during the passed years, it still remains my favorite movie of all times. Thank you, Mr Hartley! One from the heart!
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10/10
minor spoiler: great performance by Shelley and Donovan!
erostratus-amazon29 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Watching Hal Hartley's Trust for the second time 15 years later is exhilarating and somewhat disappointing. The characters are contrived and overintellectualized, and the conflict between parent and child here doesn't ring true (it seems to have the usual bitterness of college sophomores). Also the gestures and dialogue are stagy and slightly pretentious. Never mind that; you're missing the point. The film is not aiming at realism; it's aiming at conveying the emotional turbulence of young adult struggling to break free from the orbit of their parents.

Plot and incident flow naturally and often end up in unexpected places. There's lots of surprises, many of them comic. The film is about throwing characters together and watching how they react. The moment where the girl messes up the kitchen makes you wonder, how will the father react? The dialogue (reminiscient of Stoppard or Mamet) is curt and enigmatic and challenging. And always entertaining. People are learning from one another and changing..possibly improving. The movie Trust is less about plot than a certain attitude toward life--how much trust should we place in family, friends, peers? People don't have secrets or histories; they have metaphysical complaints and frustrated dreams. Martin Donovan and Adrienne Shelly are not only young charismatic actors, they act and react with subtlety and focus. Yet both have chemistry with one another and manage to sustain this intensity without going too far (Kudos to Mr. Hartley for not aiming

for sympathy or making motives too transparent). Donovan seems adept at playing characters about to boil under, but manage to hold it in (He's at his best in the film Surviving Desire,).

Adrienne, that moment when you put on your glasses at the end was a great cinematic moment. Hopeful, assertive and maybe even cocky. Your fans will always have that moment to remember you by.

If you liked Trust, you'd also enjoy: Hartley's Surviving Desire (although it's more arty), Jill Sprecher's 13 Conversations about One Thing and her earlier film, Clockwatchers).
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10/10
wonderful, horrible, mystical, hyper-realistic ride of a movie
thurst22 December 1998
This is the film that made the film world (well, a tiny corner of the film world, anyway) sit up and take notice of an up-and-coming filmmaker named Hal Hartley. Trust exists as a unique little motion picture, a movie which creates a world which manages to be both ridiculous and real at the same time, a mixture mirroring the absurdity which, often times, dominates the structure of actual life. The most remarkable thing about this movie, though, is its ability to craft a charmingly sweet love story in the center out of what seems to be utter emptiness. Martin Donavan and Adrienne Shelley portray two characters, the likes of which I would challenge you to find carbon copies of anywhere in celluloid history. They are real, honest sketches of humanity, and with them Hartley is able to explore why and how we fall in love, and whether you agree with his interpretation of what is love, his love story comes across loud and clear. I once had a professor who claimed there are no new stories to be told. Well, I think Mr. Hartley may have stumbled across one...no, make that, calculatedly made one.
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8/10
Positive review
mgchainsaw15 January 2001
I caught this movie on the television network Bravo. I didn't see the very beginning but found myself glued to the machinations of the Matthew Slaughter character. I felt the performance of Martin Donavan was wonderful and I enjoyed the odd way the characters spoke with one another. The lines were rapid-fire, almost like "Moonlighting", but with a different nuance which I can't quite put my finger on. The movie was funny, but the best word for it is "interesting". It truly was a movie unlike any other I had seen, with a Coen Brothers sense of humor. I wish I knew more people who had seen it, because it is a movie that warrants discussion afterward.
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10/10
Unusual characters brilliantly portrayed
timmy_5018 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Trust opens with a stereotypical ignorant high school girl named Maria making petty demands of her parents and deliberately scandalizing them by explaining her future plans which involve marrying her jock boyfriend. She explains that he'll have to because she's pregnant and then leaves before she has a chance to realize that the news has caused her father to have a heart attack.

Since she does leave we have a while longer to become familiar with her before her perfect world begins to crumble around her. She carelessly goes clothes shopping during the day and only stops by the school she is supposed to be attending to talk to her boyfriend. He's more worried about the upcoming football game than anything she can tell him; news of her pregnancy only angers him and he makes it clear that he won't take care of the child. Things get progressively worse for her as she's kicked out of her house, has a conversation with an insane woman, and is nearly raped before retreating to a quiet street where she attempts to drown her sorrow in a six pack.

At this point Maria happens to meet Matthew, a gifted machinist who is so unsatisfied with his foolish employers and demanding father that he has developed a nasty violent streak. This initially seems to be an excellent match as the newly disillusioned Maria has become just as averse to nonsense as Matthew. The two slowly get to know each other and each one realizes that the other satisfies an innate desire that has previously gone unmet. Unfortunately circumstances keep arising to drive them apart and Matthew puts his trust in the wrong people.

Writer/director Hal Hartley infuses this film with a uniquely cynical wit that meshes perfectly with the material to create a work that is at once funny and emotionally engaging. The film also is thematically satisfying in that it explores the attitudes of the characters and how those attitudes have been developed. Specifically, we see how the trust characters place in other people, particularly family members, is abused and subverted and how this has shaped various characters over time. Trust is one of those rare films that not only encapsulates a certain time and place but also presents some genuine truths about human behavior and offers a consistently engaging viewing experience.
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7/10
This is What You Can Make in 11 Days
gavin69427 June 2015
When high school dropout Maria Coughlin (Adrienne Shelly) announces her pregnancy to her parents, her father drops dead on the floor. Her mother kicks her out of the house and her boyfriend dumps her, so Maria is left alone and homeless.

Martin Donovan really excels here and represents a type of person some of us know all too well. The man who rebels against the world, but in a sort of passive-aggressive, nihilistic fashion. It is interesting that this film came out in 1990, as the 90s were very much a nihilistic decade for film and music, and the character of Matthew Slaughter sort of anticipates that.

Hal Hartley may not be as well known as Jim Jarmusch or (early) Richard Linklater, but he has that same independent vibe. He has done here for Long Island what Linklater did for Austin.
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One Of My Fave Rave Indie Films!
newnoir14 July 2000
I discovered Hal Hartley with this film and with "Simple Men". This is Hartley's greatest work and everything else since this has been second rate in my opinion. Friends have told me how much I'm like the character of Matthew, all that seething anger at the world and all.

The music, writing, acting, direction all add up to a wonderful and weird film experience. Hal Hartley's films are not for everyone and that's the way a lot of us Hartley fans like it. They are almost like a little private club of people who well...get it. Some people get his films, most don't. I've seen lots of people walk out in droves in the slower parts of some of his films. Case in point the Japanese dance scene in 'Flirt'. His films are filled with deadpan humor that reminds me a lot of the old 'Dragnet' TV series style of acting. Go see Trust and have a great time at the movies!
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10/10
A gem that's hard to find but that's worth the search
spazgirl-19 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I've been waiting for years to see this movie, as it's only available on VHS and when I had a VCR I couldn't find it anywhere. I just got cable and I was thrilled to discover that IFC has been showing it recently. Thanks, IFC, for making it possible for me to experience this gem!

The performances in "Trust" are amazing. The characters really do develop in subtle yet profound ways over the course of the film, and it's a joy to behold. Adrienne Shelly's character is shallow and self-centered at the outset - her hair and clothes are flamboyant and she has no real worldly concerns. As the film progresses and she interacts with Donovan's character, her entire demeanor changes and she becomes much more likable - I almost forgot how annoying she was at the beginning of the film. Donovan's character maintains his ennui but it gains purpose as he develops his feelings for Shelly's character. The supporting cast is phenomenal and all of the minor plots serve to enhance the film in utterly charming ways. It's funny and clever, touching and sad - a perfect little gem that needs to be seen by Hartley fans and independent film enthusiasts alike.

This may sound drastic, but it might be worth it to get cable just to see this movie on IFC.
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10/10
One of my top ten favourite films.
TheSteelHelmetReturns1 October 2009
It was toss-up between what film will represent the early nineties style of independent films that I like – Trust could easily be replaced with Chasing Amy, Swingers, Metropolitan, Dazed and Confused or even Scream but I chose this Hal Hartley flick because I think it is the most profound in exploring the relationships we have with our partners, our family and the people in our immediate environment as well as having the most charming minimalist style to express those thoughts. A lot of the film is pretty much shot with talking heads but the execution works well because of the deadpan while nuance performances of a cast who remain very appealing and likable regardless of the dark twists and turns the story takes. Trust is probably the only Hal Hartley film you can guarantee finding at JB Hifi in Australia at any time and I definitely recommend it as an impulse purchase.
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8/10
Excellent character study livens slightly flawed film
ChungMo15 September 2005
This film poses an interesting dilemma for me. Why do I like a film that I found to be unevenly scripted with mostly unremarkable acting?

Somehow the characters are so honest that I couldn't help become engrossed in the plot. The leads don't do a great job, they pass. It's like a good college theater production. Only Merrit Nelson as the crazy mom impressed me a an accomplished actor. There are times that the script is so artificial I was wincing. The Casiotone music track is annoying. But with all that, the movie succeeds on the pure enthusiasm that Mr. Hartley puts into the entire production.

Recommended. A good American independent film that doesn't rely on guns or psychotic behavior.
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10/10
Still the best of Hartley's movies IMO
Treacle-A6 July 2015
I first saw 'Trust' in 1991 in an outdoor cinema tent at Glastonbury Festival. I came in late, had no idea of the title, the plot, or had a clue who any of the actors were, but from the second I sat down I was in love. The style of it, the characters, the story, but above all the dialogue changed the way I thought about movies forever. Later, when I got interesting in writing for TV and film those ideas continued to shape me. I love deadpan humour, lengthy soliloquies that read like Beckett and I love love LOVE stories about simple people and small lives. They will always be the realest, the deepest felt and the most heartwarming of all.

24 years (and a hell of a lot of movies) later, 'Trust' still remains one of my favourites. I felt genuinely bereft when Adrienne Shelley was murdered, especially since 'Waitress' had also made it into my top twenty. I continue to seek out movies like 'Trust' that stick in my soul and never de-tangle. And I thank God for Hal Hartley every Thanksgiving.
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10/10
I wish more people could see it
Pedro-7218 January 2000
I've never written a comment for a film before and this was the first Hal Hartley film I've seen. I was absolutely blown away by how good it was. It was a very distinctive style and the dialogue was unrealistic but this was intentional and completely added to the film. The accompanying soundtrack was absolutely perfect and the whole thing fitted together seamlessly. Although it dealt with telling almost a fairytale story, there were also much wider issues about the banality and conformity of life in the city. In this sense, it was very acerbic and would hopefully make people think if only it could be shown to a wider audience. It is a tragedy that the only people who will watch this movie are a few independent movie buffs because there is so much that is good about it.
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7/10
"You can't know something unless you experience it first."
classicsoncall15 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is the kind of movie that would have resonated more with me when I was a lot younger, say in my Twenties or Thirties. The story it tells is effectively done, involving real people in credible situations, who in many ways find themselves dysfunctional in parts of their lives. I thought the actions of mother Jean Coughlin (Rebecca Nelson) to cause a rift between her daughter Maria (Adrienne Shelly) and Matthew (Martin Donovan) were especially despicable. Why that scenario didn't blow up was a question mark I had coming out of the picture. The other head scratcher was when Robert Howard (Jeff Howard) fainted dead away at the sight of Maria the first time at the train station - Why? There was no apparent reason for that to have occurred.

So there appeared to be a few holes in the story that could have been handled a bit better. I also considered the maturity level Maria possessed for being a high school dropout, she handled herself well in conversation with the much better educated Matthew. Particularly when she related to the idea of respect, admiration and trust as being synonymous with love. She did that without the thesaurus which I thought was significantly above her grade level. I could almost relate to Matthew's obsession with quality control but he took things too far at his workplace. It seemed to me that he could have upgraded his career choices by moving on to a more ethical firm. He wouldn't have needed a hand grenade to do it.

Perhaps my biggest takeaway from the story - I still would like to know what would have happened if Matthew followed through on trusting Maria to catch him off the ledge. The distraction that occurred was just a bit too convenient to take their minds off the matter at hand.
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10/10
Beautiful funny thing
ethanstraffin28 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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Top 100 of All Time
randallhurlbut28 July 2010
Hal Hartley's film TRUST is one of the top 100 achievements in the history of cinema. Hal, if you ever visit this site and see this statement I hope it makes you feel good. A d-girl in LA (development person in Hollywood) at a party once showed me a bookshelf at her home that contained her 10 or 15 favorite screenplays of all time... KANE, CHINATOWN, ... and one of my old screenplays (!)(she didn't know I was the author) and yeah... that makes you feel pretty damn good.

So why does TRUST work so well? Maybe it's alchemy... getting sorta the right combination in the right quantities of abstraction, hyper-realism, irony, and distance. Hartley plays with archetypes and yet makes them singular. (That ain't easy.) It's like reading Theodore Dreyer filtered by Bertolt Brecht, or running into a Long Island Godard, but the fun version of Godard before he became too p-ssed off at the world.

Hartley will stage a scene that you've seen a thousand times before, almost as genre commentary or put-on, then morph it into something you have NEVER seen before. Come to think of it, although Hartley is often thought of as the American Godard, at times he could almost be the American Bunuel (sorry Mr. Lynch).

It would be easy to hate some of the characters in Hartley's TRUST, but Hartley doesn't. He may hate the situations, the contexts, the environments... but he certainly has no hatred for the people.

It's a great love story and a quasi-homage to PIERROT LE FOU.

It contains multitudes. It is a great film.
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10/10
"I'll marry you if you admit that respect, admiration and trust equal love."
imdbpaddy1 July 2010
Trust (1990) - 10/10

As a filmmaker, Hal Hartley will forever divide audiences due to his unique story-telling style, dead-pan humour and tendency to favour words over action. His themes are often subtle and can take more than one viewing to fully understand or appreciate. Something which, understandably, can put off many.

But whether you adore his style or think it to be moronic, no-one can deny that he is and always will be an inspired writer and director. A director who has influenced many and will continue to do so, I am sure, for years to come. Now I fall into the category of adoration and I believe 'Trust' to be his finest work.

'Trust' focuses on the coming together of two characters. Maria Coughlin, a pregnant high-school dropout who has just been the cause of her fathers fatal heart attack, and Matthew Slaughter, an intellectual loner who still lives with his sadistic father. Sound like a standard, if a bit over the top, romance? You couldn't be more wrong.

What makes Hartley's films so special, and 'Trust' is no exception, are the characters he manages to create. Though the situations they get into and the characters around them are nothing short of surreal, the way the react to each situation and deal with very serious issues could not be more realistic.

A huge reason for this is his dialogue. Reminiscent of early Richard Linklater or Godard, his flowing, straight to the point script has you hooked from the word go. Fantastically direct delivery from both Shelley and Donovan allow this dialogue to shine and have you believe you these characters are friends you have known for years.

In 'Trust' I believe Hartley has created one of the most earnest romances ever to be filmed. Utterly believable and almost heartbreakingly beautiful, this is certainly not a film to be missed.

10/10
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5/10
It's so determined to be odd, eventually indifference sets in...
moonspinner5524 September 2005
Pregnant, unwed teen (Adrienne Shelly) falls unexpectedly into relationship with brilliant-but-stubborn young man (Martin Donovan) who's on the fast track to nowhere. You gotta credit director Hal Hartley with fashioning a bizarre, yet puzzlingly amusing scenario cast with unknown actors who tap right into his offbeat spirit. Still, trippy, edgy comedies like this often pummel their one-note to death, and the film's incidental charms are nearly overshadowed by the filmmaker's inherent smugness. The plot is practically non-existent, but fans of quirky dark humor will find a lot to cherish here. ** from ****
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Pretty impressive
Clever Jones14 March 2000
I was sitting in on a film class that my friend was taking. His film teacher decided to show them this quiet little film, made for about five bucks.

From the start "Trust" grabs you. It's smart, funny, beautiful, and very well written. I'm not going to make this a lengthy review, I'm just going to say: Don't miss it! See this movie.

3.5/4
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9/10
A dry, witty look at teenage life on Long Island
jpn2 November 1998
Hal Hartley's "Trust", like his very similar film, "The Unbelievable Truth" stars Adrienne Shelley as a distraught teenager (Maria) trying to make sense of it all. Maria's dry wit and defeatist attitude are extremely entertaining. As with many of Hartley's films, the brilliance is found in the clever exchanges of dialog. These exchanges often involve people having a conversation with themselves, in the presence of someone else doing the same. The effect is very amusing to watch. The scenery and jangling score also add to the overall quality of the film.
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