Trust Me (2014)

Posted by Joel Copling on June 5, 2014

For an entire hour, "Trust Me" is a cutting, sharply written satire of the talent agency and of child-stardom in an era when franchises are dominated by teenagers (and young adults playing teenagers). Writer/director/star Clark Gregg, for that first hour, understands and listens to his characters, played by a starry ensemble including the likes of Gregg himself, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, and Felicity Huffman. That solid cameos from Niecy Nash as our main protagonist's assistant, Molly Shannon as the harried mother of a child actor looking for representation, and William H. Macy as the manager of a car dealer utilize the talents of the actors themselves means that there are refreshing elements to the pedigree in front of and behind "Trust Me."

It also means that the corrosive manipulation of the last half-hour is nearly devastating to behold. It starts swimmingly, though, with Gregg's Howard Holloway, a busybody talent agent and former child star himself, meets Lydia (Saxon Sharbino) in the parking garage of his agency and strikes up a friendship with her immediately. An adaptation of a popular series of novels has fallen in his lap, and he feels like the role was practically written for her (An irony lost upon Gregg as a screenwriter is that the snippets of dialogue and plot material in the script seem dire, to say the least, but that's a small quibble). But he must contend with her deadbeat father (Paul Sparks), a rival talent agent (Rockwell) who wants Lydia just as badly but also more objectifyingly, and a producer (Huffman) and casting director (Janney) who hate his guts.

For a while, this satire works, not only to provide insight into the business of trying to sell a teenager to the rights of a studio, but also to connect with these characters, who for a time feel like real people (Peet is a charming presence as Marcy, Howard's potential love interest). Once the third act begins, though, Gregg's screenplay dumps these emotional threads for much darker territory, and "Trust Me" morphs from lighthearted dramedy to domestic drama to a con game in the vein of 2003's "Matchstick Men"--just without any of dramatic progression or emotional pay-off. The final scene, meanwhile, is a total shambles of the film's potentially powerful denouement. It's a shame. Much less, in this case, would be much, much more.

Film Information

Clark Gregg (Howard), Saxon Sharbino (Lydia), Amanda Peet (Marcy), Sam Rockwell (Aldo), Paul Sparks (Ray), Allison Janney (Meg), Felicity Huffman (Agnes), Niecy Nash (Angie), Molly Shannon (Janice), William H. Macy (Gary), Gareth Williams (Chet), Phoebe Neidhardt (Counter Girl), Keith Ewell (Ofc. Wiley Bruno), Maxwell Smith (Ben), Stella Gregg (Charlotte).

Directed and written by Clark Gregg.

Rated R (language).

90 minutes.

Released in select cities on June 6, 2014.