Monday, March 21, 2011

Trust Me. (2010) Johan Kling

This is the second seriously awful Swedish film I saw at this year's EUFF -- two out of two for me, which is highly disappointing since Sweden remains the country I've traveled to most outside of America, a country known for some stellar filmmaking. (Bergman, anyone?)

Older filmmaking aside, Sweden's output in recent years has throttled me. Even in the last decade it has become the country I've most looked forward to for masterpiece films that relay wonderfully human stories: Lukas Moodysson (Together, Lilya 4-Ever), Roy Andersson (Songs From the Second Floor), Mikael Håfström (Evil), Tomas Alfredson (Four Shades of Brown, Let the Right One In), and lately Daniel Alfredson and Niels Arden Oplev (The Millennium Trilogy, now being created for US audiences by David Fincher). These are all accomplished directors with great films that, if you still haven't seen, I encourage you to track down the DVDs.

It's just too bad that the two I've seen this year don't live up to any of the films listed above, the largest problem being that nothing happens in these films! Behind Blue Skies, which I railed against Here, is still a step above Trust Me, a film I like the original title for much better. ("Puss" would directly translate as "Kiss." Don't know why that needed to be changed. Actually neither one of the titles makes much sense in the context of a film that barely has a kiss or a lack of trust. Yet I digress.)

The movie reminded me of TV's "Glee." OK, fine, I'm no fan of the wretched boob tube and I've never seen an episode of "Glee," but I've seen its horribly artificial, vacuous and trite commercials, and that whole mess still seems better than the bulk of Trust Me, which has no comedy, no intensity -- no real mood for that matter -- but is a monotony of nothingness which isn't Jarmuschian and intending to be a "cool kind of nothingness," but really wanting to be something. And it isn't.

To give details about the plot would almost pretend that this is a script that actually exists. I prefer to think that the script is pretend and the whole film experience never happened.

But, alas --

It's about a youthful theater group in which most of the actors, for reasons unexplained, don't want to be there, and the building's landlord, for even more unexplained reasons, no longer wants the group on the premises. He's trying to figure out a way to evict them, and of course he will or the story won't be able to progress, and of course it won't work or the story won't get to a happy ending.

The stiff-necked actors and the people that work around the theater are, of course, all in love with someone who is in love with someone else, and the director, of course, can't quite bring things up to speed to get the next play ready for opening night. She's the only one who cares about the production, and even she is unhinged when learning of her fiance's affair with a member in the cast who is, yep, you guessed it, with child. His.

There's a stage gun that will no doubt get used, various pictures taken that will no doubt be revealed, and a mysterious hole in the wall where people watch people take off their clothes. There's also a bum who lives on the premises, unknown to all, and he stinks and the stink is often misunderstood as, well, something else that stinks that I guess is supposed to be funny.

And then there's the fat girl. Unappreciated, unloved, the film gets her drunk and laid backstage, and for one glorious moment you think things in her unnoticed life might begin to turn around. Sadly, they don't. The film seems to hate her, and it reminds me that I never saw a fat girl in all my years in Sweden.

The actors in Trust Me can't bring life to this lifeless script. How would they be able to? There might be some fine actors here, but they've got nothing to work with in such a sap headed story that can't make up its mind whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama, and seriously fails at both.

As if legitimizing Trust Me, some in the EUFF crowd attempted to break into a half-hearted applause at the end, at which I cleared my throat quite loudly, even unexpectedly to myself, and realized that the world is starving for something that matters. If it's Trust Me that fills that hole, we're in greater danger than I thought. We're like the humans strung up in The Matrix and the machines have taken over. Hopefully the machines are kind enough to send "Glee" reruns to our decaying brain cells while we lie there like zombies not even existing.

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