Movie Review: ‘Trust Me’
Starring: Clark Gregg, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, and Saxon Sarbino
Plot: A struggling talent agent thinks he found the next big starlet.
Clark Gregg turned a lot of geeks heads with his surprising breakout role as Agent Coulson, who along with Samuel L. Jackson, was the glue that held the first phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe together. Before that, he got my attention as the director of Choke, a movie based on my favorite book (that sadly didn’t live up to the source material). Here he plays triple duty: screenwriter, director, and star.
He plays struggling talent agent, Howard, who specializes in child stars. As a former child star himself, he thinks that he has a special touch at getting them jobs and understanding their struggles, but he is constantly undermined by his cutthroat business rival, Aldo (played excellently by Sam Rockwell). Gregg very keenly channels an aging former star who seems constantly masking his insecurities with a fake joyfulness, always acting.
After a painful audition, he thinks he has found his diamond-in-the-rough, an unknown actress whose screams of terror were so convincing Howard actually bursts into her audition to save her. With that, he charms Saxon Sarbino’s Lydia (and eventually her sleazebag father) into being their agent even though everyone in the industry seems to take too much pleasure in throwing him under the bus. Gregg and Sarbino have great chemistry together, and Gregg’s Howard really comes alive when she’s around her. The fakeness goes away when he finally sees some genuine talent, and he desperately wants to do right what he once did wrong. He thinks he has the experience to really change it and maybe save her from the usual troubles that child actors grow into.
Unfortunately, Gregg couldn’t leave well enough alone. What started out as light-hearted look at Hollywood industry struggles takes a sharp right into darker territory. The tone shift is awkward, and it sort of feels like a collection of indie cliches grasping for street cred, a trend that is happening more and more often I’m afraid.
I was also incredibly annoyed by the the next big gig that Howard and Lydia were fighting for. It was an adaptation of a young adult novel about shape-shifting vampires trying to fight their true nature. It makes perfect sense that in this market young actors would want such a role. They are kind of in right now, but when Howard reads it and finds it brilliant, he kind of loses me. He is driven to tears over it. It gets even worse when he uses it as a heavy-handed metaphor to try to spice up what is already a weak ending.
I like Clark Gregg, mostly because I like Agent Coulson, but I definitely see promise as a filmmaker. He certainly gets pretty good performances out of his actors, but his writing is rather trite.