TRUST ME review – Clark Gregg writes/directs/stars in a film Hollywood won’t like, but we will

TRUST ME review – Clark Gregg writes/directs/stars in a film Hollywood won’t like, but we will


Clark Gregg has already proven himself to be a solid director with CHOKE in 2008, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. That film starred Sam Rockwell, and found Gregg primarily behind the camera, both as a screenwriter and director. The new movie TRUST ME was written and directed by Gregg, but also features him in the lead role. Some might wonder why it took so long for the man to get back behind the camera, especially since CHOKE, while not a huge success, was heralded by many critics (I loved it myself). Since that film was released, Gregg has had a recurring job playing the beloved “Agent Phil Coulson” in several Marvel movies, including IRON MAN 1 and 2, THOR and THE AVENGERS, and even taking the lead in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. He’s also popped up in several films such as 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, THE TO DO LIST, and LABOR DAY, and had a regular role on the Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine until 2010. To put it quite simply, Clark Gregg has been busy. With TRUST ME he plays a different kind of agent… this time of the Hollywood variety.

Howard (Gregg) is a former child star living in Hollywood, now representing child star prodigies. After some bad luck, he comes across Lydia (Saxon Sharbino), a teenage girl with all the “it” qualities the studio system is looking for. Howard wants desperately to rep her, and it appears she’s cool with it, but he must also deal with her uneducated and brazen father Ray (Paul Sparks) and a competing hotshot agent named Aldo (Sam Rockwell). In the middle of all this, he’s also forging a relationship with his neighbor Marcy (Amanda Peet), who becomes a voice of reason for our misguided hero. Howard manages to push things forward a bit for Lydia, but in the cutthroat world of studio politics he finds unwelcome obstacles, and there’s also a few things about this potential star he’s yet to learn the full extent of.

One of the best things about TRUST ME is the way it pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood studio system, particularly when the powers that be are going after a young unknown. Felicity Huffman and Allison Janney play studio executives that are pretty despicable and heartless, and while they do a great job selling these roles, one can’t help but wonder how much of the on-screen experience is drawn from real life encounters Clark Gregg was either involved with or at least a witness to. There’s a lot of harsh truth in here, especially for parents wanting to make their kids into a star. Gregg is excellent playing the hapless Howard, a down on his luck Hollywood agent who doesn’t seem to have the savvy or connections to make it in the business, yet we the audience so badly want to see him succeed – even if we can see he’s just not right for this universe. I admire Clark for juggling all the duties on this film, along with starring in the lead on top of that. It’s also nice to see Sam Rockwell working with him again, even if in a more limited capacity. Amanda Peet is also great as the love interest of the piece, and there’s a few short-but-lovable moments with Niecy Nash as Howard’s reluctant assistant. But the real shining star in the movie is (ironically) the girl playing the shining star in the movie, the lovely Saxon Sharbino, who is immediately captivating and sympathetic as Lydia. I kept watching the screen thinking I’d seen her before, and convincing myself she must be a very accomplished thespian that just did this for fun. Nope, she’s pretty new to the scene, and she’s amazing, elevating the material to a much bigger level than one might expect.

There are elements in TRUST ME that will be instantly identifiable to audiences, like Lydia reading for a TWILIGHT-like film series that could make her the next big Young Adult star. But there’s also bizarre visuals and imagery that may be hard to swallow for some, though I’m happy to see Gregg taking chances with the material and finding ways to make it more interesting than the sum of its parts. In the end, it’s a film that you’ll think about long after it’s over, and one that would make for great discussion among fellow moviegoers. Hollywood will probably hate the way it portrays studios and the casting process, but it’s obvious Clark didn’t make this movie to appease them anyway. There’s also a fair amount of humor in the otherwise dark storyline, but make no mistake, this is not quite a comedy. If you’re a fan of movies like THE PLAYER or SUNSET BLVD., do yourself a favor and make time to see TRUST ME.

TRUST ME premiered on VOD and iTunes on May 6, and hits theaters on June 6, 2014

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.