Thursday Trailer Face-Off! Trust vs. Cracks

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Published March 3, 2011

 

Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Trust and Cracks, two single-word-title dramas about teenaged girls who get in over their heads with adults’ obsession.

 

PremiseIn Trust, Annie Cameron (Liana Liberato) gets a new MacBook Pro for her birthday (lucky girl!), and makes a friend: a cute boy, Charlie, who lives in California, who’s kind and funny and tells her she’s beautiful. Of course, Charlie’s not actually a junior in high school—and when Annie decides to meet him in person, she and her family have to deal with the consequences of what happens next. Cracks is set at a tony British boarding school, where Di (Juno Temple), the leader of her clique, idolizes Miss G (Eva Green), who is their teacher and swimming/diving instructor. When a new girl arrives from Spain, Fiamma (María Valverde), Miss G’s becomes intensely affectionate towards her—engendering Di’s jealousy and going, perhaps, too far. The trailer doesn’t make the movie’s plot quite as clear as Trust‘s does, but it does seem at least a little more inventive than the old Internet-predator storyline, which feels well-trodden by now. Advantage: Cracks

Points of ComparisonTrust draws from a rich tradition of books and films about teens who are preyed upon by shady Internet characters: Katie.com, Strangeland, episodes of Degrassi and SVU, Hard Candy (though that’s, admittedly, got a twist)—and there must be a Lifetime movie or two, right? Cracks, by contrast, reminds us of two things: Picnic at Hanging Rock (the boarding school, the eerie feel) and The Children’s Hour (the 1930s setting, the Sapphic overtones), both of which are a little more highbrow. Advantage: Cracks

Star PowerBoth films star up-and-comers: in Cracks, it’s Juno Temple, who’s had roles in Notes on a Scandal, Atonement, and Greenberg. In Trust, it’s Liana Liberato, who’s had mostly TV roles so far, but who won the Best Actress award at the Chicago Film Festival for her turn as Annie. Between Temple and Liberato, it’s a wash—but Trust wins hands-down when it comes to supporting cast. Cracks has beautiful Eva Green and Imogen Poots; sure, but in Trust, Catherine Keener and Clive Owen play Annie’s parents, while Viola Davis plays her counselor. No contest. Advantage: Trust

DirectorTrust actually isn’t David Schwimmer’s directorial debut—he’s been directing TV movies since 1998, and he also directed 2007 Simon Pegg vehicle Run, Fatboy, Run, which was written by Michael Ian Black. Though Cracks director Jordan Scott, like Schwimmer, also has a pre-existing Hollywood claim to fame—she’s the daughter of Ridley Scott—this is her first feature. For the experience factor, we’ve got to give it to Ross Geller! Advantage: Trust

MysteriousnessTrust gets points for not showing us the predator’s face in the trailer—the closest we come is the back of a pair of chinos, when Annie’s supposed to meet Charlie at the mall (around 0:56), and for the unclear nature what follows: whose car is she in? And who’s that with her in the very short home-video clip at 1:03? But Cracks wins for suspense, since its plot isn’t given away so freely in the trailer.  “Whatever we say, we did this. We’re to blame,” intones a voiceover at the very beginning of the Cracks trailer—a very well-placed tease that leaves us wondering, “Did what?” throughout the rest. Advantage: Cracks

LevityNeither of these movies is exactly a Garry Marshall joint; and searching for relief from the heavy storylines yielded very little. The closest thing we could find in Cracks was when Miss G. tells her students they won’t need their textbooks and does a little dance at the front of the classroom. As for Trust, we’re not sure how it relates to the story at hand, but we must admit we chuckled when ad-exec Will Cameron (Owen) looks over some ads clearly meant to signify American Apparel and asks, “These are definitely for a clothing company, right? So why isn’t anybody wearing a shirt?” Though the American Apparel-manqué situation does appear to come back and haunt him later, when an image of his daughter in her underwear is blown up in and hung in a gallery he visits, at least they gave humor a shot. Advantage: Trust

School Sports, and Their RelevanceIn Trust, high-school volleyball is one of the ways Annie and her online paramour, “Charlie,” first connect: “My friend Charlie from California—he’s a junior, and he plays volleyball for his high school,” she informs her dad. Later, she collapses into tears in the locker room with her kneepads still on. It’s a useful vehicle for moving along the film’s plot points—but doesn’t seem quite as integral as boarding-school swimming and diving does in Cracks. All the major characters are involved in one way or another in the sport—and it seems the main source of tension between Di and Fiamma is their diving rivalry (at least in on the surface, so to speak). Advantage: Cracks

VerdictThough we’ve heard good things about Trust and Liana Liberato’s performance, we’re skeptical—based on the trailer, at least—about whether it really does anything different with the online-predator story. And we’re into Cracks‘ throwback setting and the possibility of a sinister performance from Eva Green—who may not be all she appears. Winner: Cracks