As brothers Alex and Benjamin Brewer present their debut feature film The Trust, you can see influences from another pair of siblings exceptionally prevalent (in an affectionate manner) in their work. The Coen Brothers too thrived off the notion whereby our antihero protagonists vie tirelessly to pull off a seemingly straightforward task, and yet watch on as it unravels in a messy, catastrophic manner. One thing we have learned, and taken into this particular endeavour, is that when everything is supposed to be so easy, it so very rarely is.
When we first meet cop David Waters (Elijah Wood), he’s sleeping with a prostitute and leaving straight from there to a crime scene, late, stoned, untroubled. He’s greeted by a seemingly more professional colleague, Jim Stone (Nicolas Cage), who patrols the area with an air of authority. But as we dig deeper into the friendship we learn that the latter is by no means the clued up half of this double act, evident in when he becomes obsessed with the idea of breaking into a vault. Having arrested a drug dealer a year earlier, when learning that bail receipt was picked up by a mysterious magnate, he seeks in finding this elusive benefactor, and use his knowledge of the police department to fill his own pockets with cash.
There’s a dark wit prevalent in this tale, which is overstated and gloriously farcical in parts, and yet never compromises nor cheapens the more profound aspects and the severity of the narrative and the enormity of what’s at stake. The way the Brewer brothers drift seamlessly between comedy and bleakness is impressive, never presenting a distinctive tonal shift, ensuring the two contrasting elements work harmoniously, and productively together. What transpires is an intelligent piece of cinema that dramatically transcends expectations, even meta in that regard, for The Trust appears as though something of a B-movie, and yet has many layers to unravel and unforeseen depth.
Cage and Wood are both terrific in the leading roles, managing to be completely bonkers and yet maintain a sense of subtlety throughout. The former in particular shines, proving just how accomplished he is at playing such unhinged, unpredictable characters with a sense of playful danger in their eyes, though needless to say Jim Stone is not as overtly volatile as that of which we witnessed in Bad Lieutenant, but that makes it all the more commendable. In this instance it leaves Wood portraying the ‘straight’ guy, though anybody well-versed in the art of the archetypal double act won’t be surprised to hear he’s equally as mad as his counterpart.