Like Blue Velvet, Sweetie and Heathers, Trust is a whimsically satirical and deeply personal, look at suburban Middle America. Turning again to many of the ensemble that carried his cult hit The Unbelievable Truth, Hal Hartley has fashioned another beautifully written, episodic comedy which examines adolescent angst and the frequently claustrophobic ties that bind families together.
While there is plenty of violence in Hartley's world, he eschews the more Gothic side of Lynch et al to create a surreal comedy of manners. Set in a suburban East Coast town where commuters all wear overcoats, smoke pipes and holiday on the Cape, Trust follows the hit-and-miss relationship that develops between an unlikely couple of misfits, Maria and Matthew. Maria (Shelly) is a self-willed spoiled brat who provokes her father to a fatal heart attack in the opening scenes and is promptly cast out on the streets, pregnant and alone, she runs into Matthew (Donovan), an angst ridden young intellectual with a genius for computers. These two oddballs proceed to try and construct their own peculiar 'family' while leading off Maria's sadistic mother and Matthew's bullying father.
More parent-child relationships are provided by a child-stealer, a nurse in an abortion clinic and Maria's sister Peg. Hartley has the ability to write dialogue that hovers between the literary and the realistic and to create the kind of oddball encounters that never quite lose the ring of truth. Maria's transformation from teenage brat to early maturity is painstakingly conveyed by Shelly and Martin Donovan comes on like a slightly scruffier Christian Slater.
Occasionally a trifle too cute and knowing, Trust offers an original and engaging take on suburbia from a director who manages to combine his own personal concerns with a fresh yet believable take on American domesticity.