In 2015, brothers Alex and Ben Brewer won an MTV Video Music Award for the video for Justin Bieber’s “Where Are U Now,” climaxing a long run as music video producers. On March 13, 2016, they demonstrated that they have graduated to the world of feature films with the premiere at SXSW of The Trust, starring Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood.
Cage and Wood play unhappy cops who are at the bottom of the pecking order. Cage’s character gets no respect and is treated by his boss as an errand boy. Wood’s cop is unsuccessfully trying to recover from a breakup using drugs and hookers. When Cage discovers that a punk drug dealer has been anonymously bailed out with a payment of $200,000 cash, he determines to find out what’s going on, using his skills and those of Wood who works for him.
At this point The Trust turns into a caper film, with unintended and unexpected results.
Also appearing in the film are Sky Ferreira (The Green Inferno, Vampire Academy) and Jerry Lewis. Yes, that Jerry Lewis.
Ferreira plays an apparently innocent bystander who gets caught up in the complications of the caper. Lewis has a cameo role as Cage’s father.
After the film, in a question and answer session with the brothers Brewer and Elijah Wood, the filmmakers were asked how they got Jerry Lewis to appear.
The brothers explained that it was thanks to Cage’s efforts. “He always wanted to be in a film with Lewis,” Alex explained, “so, he talked him into it.”
The brothers agreed that having Lewis on the set was a learning experience. They said that he combined humor with a sincere concern for everyone on the set. “He wanted it to be a good environment for the entire crew,” Ben explained.
Wood got involved with the project in a more traditional manor. “My agent sent it to me and I read it,” Wood said. “As soon as I did,” he added, “I wanted to be in this.” His participation was made more fun for him because of getting to work with Nicolas Cage. “During the filming, I’d find myself thinking, ‘Hey, that’s Nicolas Cage and he’s doing cool stuff,’” Wood said.
The interplay of the two characters is a key element that makes the film engaging. Cage’s character deals with his low place in the unofficial pecking order by resorting to humor to relieve the tension. This adds to the appeal of the first part of the film. When things turn dangerous, he keeps up the humor, only it becomes inappropriate and creepy.
Wood’s character is the one who experiences a character arc. He initially helps Cage’s character because the latter is his boss. Then he has doubts about their activities. The plot turns on how he deals with this conflict.
During the Q&A, the brothers, who co-directed, were asked what they were aiming for as far as the message of the movie was concerned. They agreed that it was “Crime doesn’t pay.” As simple as that theme is, its execution in The Trust is masterful.
The Trust is still seeking distribution, and from the reaction of the crowd at SXSW, I’m sure it will get it.