Directed by Hal Hartley
Doomsy’s Rating: 100/100 (My favorite film!)
Is Trust the best film ever made from a technical point of view? No. Is it my favorite film of all time? Hell yes it is. At this point, I think I’ve seen this classic going on fifty times and every time it’s just perfect and everything I could ever want in a film.
Before you read any further, I implore you if you’ve never heard of this film (understandable if you haven’t, it’s somewhat obscure), stop what you’re doing and make the effort to find it.
Trust, for lack of a better word, invented emo culture.
It didn’t popularize it—the film was little seen at the time of its release outside arthouse crowds and fans of the director—but it created the first modern emo protagonist way back in 1989 with the wonderfully unpredictable icon and quote machine Matthew Slaughter, seen below in all his jet-black, chain-smoking laconism:
Matthew Slaughter may be, in my humble opinion, one of the top five greatest cinema characters ever. Martin Donovan, who has to date, appeared in nine of director Hal Hartley’s films, brings this troubled, intellectual, confrontation-prone yet empathetic soul to life in a layered performance of gruff scowl and poetic wisdom. If Holden Caulfield’s internal musings of apathy were the skeleton, Matthew Slaughter is the muscular exterior, throwing glances of possession and clouds of smoke to whoever dares to question his integrity. His permanently clenched fists and avoidance of eye contact belie the traumatic home life that in another film would be presented as more serious. Here, instead of regarding parental abuse with the utmost sincerity, Matthew’s obsessive-compulsive, violent father (played with disturbing teeth-gnashing verve by John MacKay) is shown as a near caricature, literally exploding into his son’s room with nefarious intentions, the door being cartoonishly thrown off its hinges like some Looney Tunes gag. But Matthew’s father is no joke. His gaslighting and nasty streak are instantly relatable, evoking no laughs just as Hartley surely intended. Matthew’s half of the film is sad and lonely, but insightful and warm in a way that only a humanist at heart could affect. His deadpan aphorisms are endlessly quotable and influenced many romantic depressives for decades to come, including Jim Carrey’s Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Donnie Darko’s title character, the protagonist of Submarine, and so forth. But alas, Trust is a film of two protagonists and their aimless lives on Long Island and their hope in each other. So, more on Matthew a little later on.
Trust’s other half is dominated by the luminous, adorable Adrienne Shelly in her greatest role, as Maria, a quick-witted and carefree 17-year-old girl grappling with an unplanned pregnancy at the hands of her pathetic quarterback boyfriend Anthony, and suddenly being cast adrift in a cruel and unforgiving town of sexual predators, toxic masculinity, and unstable homes. She begins the film an archetypal nubile, but through her interactions and ultimate romantic relationship with the older and likely asexual Matthew, she learns to believe in someone other than herself and to find her place and confidence. Adrienne Shelly, the beautiful, effervescent soul that was sadly murdered a mere fifteen years later, is a beaming ray of light no matter what room she enters.
Maria, as a pregnant teen struggling to find a path and possessing an acerbic tongue and a penchant for leaving accidental disaster in her wake, precedes Juno by nearly two decades and again, has clearly influenced emo culture with her hilariously dorky glasses (seen below) and sunken, eyeliner heavy aesthetic. She begins the film by unintentionally slapping her father into a heart attack-induced untimely demise, then spends the rest of her narrative attempting to make amends with her psychopathic mother (a fantastic Merritt Nelson) and make up her mind over whether to keep her child, played out in a highly-stylized manner that some would compare to the works of David Lynch (namely the domestic areas of Twin Peaks) but more closely aligns with the literary approach of Salinger or the Bronte sisters.
One thing that Trust managed to do, before perhaps any other piece of media at that time, was show how the alienation of youth from the commercialism of the 1980s was already blooming, and it captured, before grunge took it mainstream, the depressing lack of direction experienced by outsiders who couldn’t fit into Reagan’s model. Matthew and Maria do not fit in to the respective lives: Matthew is a thirty-year-old genius still living with a father who hates him, and despite his gifts, has sustained a failure to launch; Maria is a pregnant high school dropout with nothing on her mind besides what’s ten feet in front of her. These two, forced to rely on lethal safety nets, meet by pure happenstance on a cold night in a ramshackle building, and share four or five honest lines and a connection is forged.Their attempts to bring the other into their respective abusive homes are met with consternation and further verbal and physical altercations, almost all of which are darkly humorous in some way, but never successful. And yet, their initial desires to become responsible members of society only decay their psyches more. It is here that we realize while they may not get a happy ending, they have retained their independent identities and succeeded at what they set out to do.
The best scene in the film comes about halfway through, where Matthew comes into a bar, casually punches two people, then sits down with a massive “keep out” sign practically stapled to his forehead when he’s approached by Peg, Maria’s older, divorced sister. The dialogue of this scene, some of the best I’ve ever seen, somehow pales in comparison to the perfectly-tuned chemistry between the sexy, sassy Peg and the nihilistic Matthew, both of them playing off the other’s perceived weaknesses like the screwball comedies of old. The scene climaxes in a poisonous barb that leaves Peg speechless, and is the only time in entire film when Matthew utilizes a lowbrow dialectic.
It’s also one of the few instances in the entire film when Matthew looks at a character other than Maria while addressing them, leading me to believe (among other reasons) that he’s somewhere on the autism spectrum. His extreme difficulty in opening up to others is shown in painstaking detail, as is his extreme intelligence and lack of upward momentum. Whenever someone or something threatens his world and paradigms, he will often react violently or impulsively. This is a man who carries around a handgrenade “just in case.” He is terrified of change, but he is also aware of the fact that life is always changing. Sometimes quickly, perhaps even painfully, but it does.
The strange thing is that, even by the film’s end, despite his best efforts, Matthew’s changes as a character are minute. His growth, while not stunted per se, is reliant on whether he is understood, and even Maria, his soul mate, doesn’t get him sometimes. Relationships with a partner on the autism spectrum can be tricky (speaking from experience) but are so worthwhile because they are not unsure of who they are or what they want. Matthew spends much of his dialogue speaking his mind, at times perhaps even too direct (as above) but he is a singular and thoughtful person who wants to do right by the world, even when he doesn’t agree with it.
As the film progresses and Maria’s arc of the film takes precedence, the film shifts direction slightly into a powerfully feminist and deeply open-minded look at a woman’s right to choice, both in her life direction, and more bluntly, about abortion issues. A wonderful subplot involving a no-nonsense nurse (Karen Sillas) that nonchalantly offers her teenage abortion patients shots of scotch in celebration is both hysterical and sad, running the gamut of emotions with a tone of ambivalence. It is the flat prosody of the film that makes all these individual elements come to life, from top down.
Overall, Trust is a film without Hollywood glitz, but just as achingly romantic and heartfelt and emotionally fulfilling as the silver screen can provide, and most postmodern romantics and emo culture wouldn’t exist without its influence. It’s as honest, sincere and a real as movies get.
Please, everyone just watch this. It would be Tumblr’s favorite movie, just like it is mine.
Hi! My names Jenny… I’m looking for a sugar daddy or someone who could pay me on cashapp for certain things. I send but only for money, dm me for prices 💖
“Vertigo” by Bolivian goth band Le Vow featured here on a compilation of Bolivian goth bands
Does anyone have any recommendations for gothic or grunge clothing shops that don’t cost an arm and a leg?
Wait for the end. YEAH!
Tags: #femboy #goth @the.shark.puppet #rickowensshoes #rickowens #rickowenscargobaskets #gothshoes #gothboots #yeah #sharkpuppet #gothtiktok
“One Last Goodbye” by Christchurch, New Zealand-based goth band The Tacks off of a 2020 release
a mood board for the kind of relationship I want *:･ﾟ✧
“Strained” by Pullo off of their 2017 EP Age of New Life
also i went to the cemetery again
Sunrise after a night of rain.