For Reel


Trust (1990)
August 16, 2012, 6:57 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Hal Hartley

One might have expected that Hal Hartley’s suburban dystopias would have found an audience in the disaffected twenty-somethings of any generation, but unlike fellow American indie pioneers of the 1990s (such as Jim Jarmush), Hartley’s popularity has waned since finding cult success over two decades ago. His distinctly stylized dialogue, in addition to his penchant for complimenting deadpan with the absurd, has perhaps proven too inaccessible to transcend the arthouse crowd, but nonetheless one can’t help but think that Hartley’s dry, postmodern irony is well-met with the cynical, often surreal comedic sensibilities shown by Louis CK’s television series, to name one example. Trust, the New Yorker’s second feature, follows a pair of misfits who attempt to navigate a world driven insane by suburban malaise – she, a pregnant teen (Adrienne Shelley); he, an electronic repairman who carries a grenade with him at all times (Martin Donovan). The destructive potential of the grenade might suggest the necessity of rebuilding from the ground up, but strangely the film doesn’t wallow in such nihilism. Instead, it is a relatively agreeable story about overcoming such miseries – the asexual relationship that the leads find is, as they put it in a sort of mantra, a love based on mutual “trust, admiration, and respect.” That is not to say that Hartley’s vision is in any way precious – his peculiar fondness for using radical melodramatic devices is overpowering: unexpected detours include a threatened rape, an abortion, and a patricide.

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