Combustible Celluloid
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With: Clark Gregg, Saxon Sharbino, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, Paul Sparks, Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney, William H. Macy, Molly Shannon, Niecy Nash
Written by: Clark Gregg
Directed by: Clark Gregg
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 90
Date: 06/06/2014

Trust Me (2014)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Agent Provocateur

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Character actor Clark Gregg -- who is best known for his recurring role as Agent Coulson in the Avengers movies and on TV's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -- made his directorial debut with the twisted Choke (2008). His follow-up, Trust Me, is inherently sweeter and more wounded, but as if in an effort to join the two films, it seems forced into much darker territory in the final act.

A Hollywood agent, Howard Holloway (Clark Gregg), specializes in representing child actors; his own past as a failed child actor gives him a special touch. The trouble is that Howard just isn't lucky enough, savvy enough, or savage enough to play with Hollywood heavyweights. After losing his latest client, he meets 13 year-old Lydia (Saxon Sharbino), and before he knows it, he's handling her casting in a multi-million dollar Ang Lee-directed teen vampire franchise.

At the same time, he gets the nerve to ask out his pretty neighbor (Amanda Peet), and things seem to be going well at last. But try as he can to hold everything together, his rival Aldo Shocklee (Sam Rockwell) and various outside forces seem to conspire against him.

Gregg provides a prologue to foreshadow the brutal last act, but it still doesn't quite fit. However, the middle section, and the majority of the movie, is an affecting character study, exploring the down, but not quite out Howard, touching upon his small moments of victory that he has spent his life trying to re-capture. Lydia is also an interesting character, clearly trying to make up for loss and pain in her young life, and the two make an interesting pair.

Co-stars like Sam Rockwell and Alison Janney, despite their great talent, can only play backstabbing Hollywood villains, but Peet is adorable as the spunky girl next door.

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