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Film / Trust

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"What took her family years to build, a stranger stole in an instant."

Trust is a 2011 film about a teenage girl who meets an online predator, starring Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, and Viola Davis, and directed by David Schwimmer (yes, that David Schwimmer).

Annie Cameron (Liana Liberato) is a typical high school freshman from a loving, well-to-do family living in suburban Chicago. For her 14th birthday, her parents buy her a new laptop, which she quickly begins using to chat online with a 16-year-old boy from California named Charlie. At first, Charlie seems like the perfect boyfriend but he soon begins displaying a few quirks, namely the fact that he keeps increasing his age, first to 20, then to 25. However, Annie remains smitten in love with him and soon agrees to meet with him in real life at a mall. When she arrives there, she soon discovers that Charlie was not who presented himself to be...


All of the above only covers the first act of the film, however. The remainder of the movie deals with the fallout of Annie's experience with Charlie and the effect that it has both on her and her friends and family, particularly her relationship with her father Will (Owen).

This film provides examples of:

  • Based on a True Story: A mild example. When Will begins working as a volunteer for a Perverted-Justice-like organization and chats with online predators, some of the lines typed by the pedophile are directly taken from actual chatlogs on the Perverted Justice website.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Charlie is never caught and Annie remains severely depressed about the changes in her life. However, she has begun slowly rebuilding her friendship with Brittany and, after listening to her father's heartfelt apology to her, she hugs him as they begin the long and painful road to recovery together.
    • Downer Ending: And then in the Epilogue, we find out that "Charlie" is actually a high school teacher and has a loving wife and son of his own.
  • Blatant Lies: Charlie first claiming to be a 16-year-old high school student, then a college volleyball player, and then a 25-year-old grad student.
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  • Break the Cutie: Annie.
  • Dawson Casting: Averted. Producers made a point to cast a 14-year-old actress to portray Annie, believing that casting an older actress would distract viewers from the gravity of what happens to her.
  • Daydream Surprise: A scene where Will is beating the living hell out of a sex offender turns out to be this.
  • Dirty Old Man: What "Charlie" turns out to be, rather than the handsome teenage/college boy that Annie had envisioned him as.
  • Driven to Suicide: Annie attempts to overdose on pills after discovering the website mocking her rape. Her parents discover this and save her in time, though.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Both Annie and her father Will can be said to go through this after her rape, with Annie herself being firmly stuck in Denial for most of the film before being harshly dragged into Depression and her father wavering mostly between Anger and Bargaining.
  • Heroic BSoD: Annie has one after she learns from the FBI agent that Charlie is a serial offender and has tricked and date-raped numerous other teenage girls before her. She finally faces the fact that he had been lying to her all along and has a breakdown in her counselor's office.
    • Annie's parents when they first learn that she had been sexually assaulted.
  • Karma Houdini: "Charlie."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Some of the trailers promoting the film, perhaps capitalizing on Clive Owen's role, focused on the scenes of Annie's father trying to track and hunt down her rapist (most of these were actually from a Fantasy Sequence), making the movie look like an action-packed Rape and Revenge-type knockoff of Taken rather than the drama that it actually is.
  • Pædo Hunt: After Annie's rape, her father Will develops an extreme hatred of all rapists and begins obsessively stalking a registered sex offender who lives in their neighborhood. This comes to a head later in the film when Will sees the man taking pictures at a girls' volleyball game, assumes the worst, and begins severely beating him in public. It turns out that the man was actually the father of one of the volleyball players and was merely taking pictures of his daughter playing, and in a deleted scene, it was further revealed that the man's sex offender status was due to the fact that he had been charged with statutory rape at the age of 18 for having sex with his then 17-year-old girlfriend, who was now his wife and the mother of their daughter.note 
  • Rape and Revenge: Deconstructed. Will becomes so obsessed and singularly focused on trying to capture Charlie that he does so while oblivious to his daughter's actual feelings, and ends up hurting her further and damaging their once-close relationship.
  • Rape as Drama
  • Social Media Is Bad:
    • The villain is a serial rapist who catfishes young girls on an online chatroom, and the film explores how easy it is to manipulate someone online.
    • Annie is slut-shamed by her classmates online following her rape.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Several of Annie's mean-spirited classmates produce a Slut-Shaming website taunting her about her rape. It's upon discovering this that causes her to attempt suicide.
  • Vigilante Man: Will begins envisioning himself as a sex offender hunter after his daughter's experience with Charlie. It turns out poorly when he actually tries this out in real life, though.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Annie angrily breaks off her friendship with Brittany (after she reported her rape to the police) and refuses to talk to her.
    • Only Friend: Brittany continues to care deeply for Annie however and, by the end of the film, is implied to be the only person in school still speaking to her due to her social ostracism.
    • The Power of Friendship: It is Brittany who correctly guesses that Annie would hurt herself after discovering the website mocking her and calls her parents to warn them of the fact.
  • Wild Teen Party: Annie and Brittany attend one at a popular girl's house near the beginning of the film.
    • Subverted with the fact that they are both very visibly uncomfortable at the party and it is clear that they are not mature enough to enjoy the situation.
  • Women Are Wiser: A primary theme of the film is the exploration of how different family members deal with tragedy differently. Annie's mother is shown to be far more understanding of her daughter's situation and focuses on being a loving mother to her, while her father becomes extremely preoccupied with trying to catch Charlie, sometimes at the expense of what is best for his daughter's feelings.