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Cops and robbers The Trust'

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Film features inconsistent narrative, weird performances

One of the joys of the modern movie model is the fact that there's no one right method of distribution anymore. While the whole theatrical release thing is still the standard, with the advent of streaming services and various on-demand outlets, there are far more ways to see new movies than simply heading to the cineplex.

Take 'The Trust,' for instance. Thanks to DirecTV, I saw it well before its official theatrical release date of May 13. It's an independent film from the writing/directing team of Alex and Benjamin Brewer their first feature as a duo. It stars Nicolas Cage ('Pay the Ghost') and Elijah Wood ('The Last Witch Hunter'). And it issomething.

Cage plays Jim Stone, a put-upon Las Vegas police officer who works primarily with crime scene evidence processing and storage. Wood is David Waters, a constantly stoned slacker cop who is Stone's subordinate and one of his only friends on the force. The two are seemingly content to sleepwalk their respective ways through life.

But when Stone stumbles upon a bail receipt for a low-level heroin dealer, he is shaken out of his routine. This nobody was able to make bail - $200,000 cash bail, no less almost immediately. So where did the money come from? Stone enlists Waters to help him find out.

Their investigations lead them to an innocuous-seeming convenience store on the outskirts of town a store whose blueprints indicate a nigh-impregnable vault built into the back of the walk-in freezer. Stone is convinced that the vault contains something of incredible value money, drugs, what have you and decides that he and Waters are going to break in and steal it.

Of course, nothing is that easy.

The pair comes up with a complicated plan to gain access to the vault, only to have circumstances complicate their plans even further. Yet despite their never having committed any criminal act like this before, they press onward and by the time they realize just what they're dealing with, they have long since passed the point of no return.

Explaining 'The Trust' to someone who hasn't seen it is rather difficult. Mere synopsis doesn't really do justice to just how weird this movie is. It's a heist movie kind of. It's a crime thriller sort of. It's a buddy comedy ish? There's an absence of any sort of genre or thematic cohesion, leading to a film littered with tonal fits and starts that come off as more or less random.

Obviously, the responsibility for much of the stylistic confusion rests at the feet of the Brewer brothers (and Alex Hirsch, who co-wrote the screenplay with Benjamin Brewer). While there's no doubt that the dissonance was likely a deliberate choice, the collective lack of experience behind the camera results in something that is more muddled than subversive, more confusing than edgy.

However, there's something to be said for the opportunity to see Nicolas Cage go full lunatic. I've discussed before how watching Cage cobble together his trademark insanity from his various tics and quirks can be an exquisite and mesmerizing experience. This is one such experience, though one could argue that it qualifies as subtle in Cage-ian terms. From his magnificent cop-stache to his inappropriately-timed dad joke humor to his nonsensical character shifts, it's a master class in weirdness. He's terrible, yet undeniably fascinating.

Wood should probably have known better, but he's fine. He's a bit tough to buy as any sort of cop he's awfully small but he wears the 'whatever, dude' attitude of the functional pothead reasonably well. One gets the impression that he literally did not know what Cage was going to say or do at any given moment, which is actually pretty great. In terms of supporting cast, well Jerry Lewis is in this movie. Yeah THAT Jerry Lewis. He's Nicolas Cage's dad for some unfathomable reason. Singer-songwriter Sky Ferreira is in it too, because at that point, why the hell not?

'The Trust' is destined to have a brief and unmemorable box office run. That's fine, because it is not a good movie. However, if you are a connoisseur of films that are bad in interesting ways particularly the work of Nicolas Cage there's a significant chance that you'll enjoy this experience.

[1 out of 5]

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