To Live and Write in LA

SXSW: ‘The Trust’ with Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood

(Originally published on Blogcritics.org)

In 2015, brothers Alex and Ben Brewer won an MTV Video Music Award for the video for Justin Bieber’s “Where Are U Now”, climaxing a long run as music video producers. On March 13, 2016, they demonstrated that they have graduated to the world of feature films with the premier at SXSW of The Trust, starring Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood.

The TrustThe Trust is a crime drama which combines the world of CSI: Vegas with the violence and dark humor of a Quentin Tarantino film. Pretty good for beginners.

Cage and Wood play unhappy cops who are at the bottom of the pecking order. Cage’s character gets no respect and is treated by his boss as an errand boy. Wood’s cop is unsuccessfully trying to recover from a breakup using drugs and hookers. When Cage discovers that a punk drug dealer has been anonymously bailed out with a payment of $200,000 cash, he determines to find out what’s going on. He uses his skills and those of Wood who works for him.

At this point The Trust turns into a caper film, with unintended and unexpected results.

Also appearing in the film are Sky Ferreira (The Green Inferno, Vampire Academy) and Jerry Lewis. Yes, that Jerry Lewis.

Ferreira plays an apparently innocent bystander who gets caught up in the complications of the caper undertaken by Cage and Wood. Lewis has a cameo role as Cage’s father.

The Trust

Brothers and co-directors of ‘The Trust’ Alex and Ben Brewer discuss the film with Elijah Wood

After the film, in a question and answer session with the brothers Brewer and Elijah Wood, they were asked how they got Jerry Lewis to appear in the film.

The brothers explained that it was Cage’s efforts that got Lewis involved. “He always wanted to be in a film with Lewis,” Alex explained, “so, he talked him into it.”

The brothers agreed that having Lewis on the set was a learning experience. They said that he combined humor and a sincere concern for everyone on the set. “He wanted it to be a good environment  for the entire crew,” Ben explained.

Wood got involved with the project in a more traditional manor. “My agent sent it to me and I read it,” Wood said. “As soon as I did,” he added, “I wanted to be in this.” His participation in the project was even more fun for him because of the fact that he was getting to work with Nicolas Cage. “During the filming, I’d find myself thinking, ‘Hey, that’s Nicolas Cage and he’s doing cool stuff,’” Wood said.

The Trust

Nicolas Cage discovers disturbing evidence in ‘The Trust’

The interplay of the two characters during the story is a key element that makes the film engaging. Cage’s character deals with his low place in the unofficial pecking order by resorting to humor to relieve the tension. This adds to the appeal of the first part of the film. When things turn dangerous, he keeps up the humor, only it becomes inappropriate and creepy.

Wood’s character is the one who experiences a character arc. He initially helps Cage’s character because he is his boss. Then he has doubts about their activities. The plot turns on how he deals with this conflict.

During the Q&A, the brothers, who co-directed, were asked what they were aiming for as the message of the movie. They agreed that it was “Crime doesn’t pay.” As simple as that theme is, it’s execution in The Trust was masterful.

The Trust is still seeking distribution, and from the reaction of the crowd at SXSW, I’m sure it will get it.

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