Sword of Trust: Wait, WHO won the war?

Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Marc Maron, & Jon Bass in Sword of Trust. Photo Credit: Arik Sokol

Sword of Trust, brilliantly written by Lynn Shelton and Mike O’Brien, finds a way to mix both the political with the funny in this ensemble comedy.

Pawnshop owner Mel (Marc Maron) has one of the most inept employees in Nathaniel (Jon Bass).  When it comes to his shop’s customers, Mel is the type who deceives them.  Mel hits the jackpot one day when married lesbian couple Cynthia (Jillian Bell) and Mary (Michaela Watkins) enter the store with a Civil War-era sword.  This isn’t just any old sword.  No, it’s a sword that belonged to Cynthia’s grandfather.  Mel knows what he’s doing but Cynthia isn’t falling for any of the pawnshop shit.  According to Cynthia, this sword was there when Union General George McClellan surrendered to Confederacy General Robert E. Lee.  Newsflash: this never happened.

It only gets better from here!  Conspiracy theorists have an interest in Civil War relics that prove that the South won.  Consequently, Mel gets the idea to team up with them in order to make bank.  We’re talking several thousand dollars here.  But is it worth it?  This is the question of the hour.

It is very hard to imagine a world in which the Confederacy won the Civil War.  If you’re anything like me, it’s not a world you’d wish to live in.  As crazy as it sounds, there is a market for “prover items.”  Before you ask, prover items are relics that prove that the South won the war.  This is so meshuggeneh, right?!?  Sure enough, this whole idea is what drives the plot of Sword of Trust.  Don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger.  But if you’re asking, this is not one of those alternative history of the films.  It just so happens that people who believe that the Civil War ended differently…exist in the film.

Given the film’s cast, it’s certainly no surprise that this is such a funny film.  In the four leading roles alone are Marc Maron, Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins and Jon Bass.  On top of this, we’ve got Dan Bakkedahl in a minor supporting role.  You can never have too much of Dan Bakkedahl when it comes to watching him perform in comedies.  As for Maron, co-writers Lynn Shelton and Mike O’Brien write directly to the comedian’s strengths as a performer.  There are many improvisers in this case and it shows–this isn’t a negative at all.  When actors have free reign of the material, you never know what you’re going to get.  In another universe, co-writer Mike O’Brien would be starring as Nathaniel.  Bass would replace the AP Bio creator with the show being picked up for a second season.

Sword of Trust works as a film even though the general premise is off the walls.

DIRECTOR:  Lynn Shelton
SCREENWRITERS:  Lynn Shelton and Mike O’Brien
CAST:  Marc Maron, Jon Bass, Michaela Watkins, Tim Paul, Whitmer Thomas, with Toby Huss, Dan Bakkedahl, and Jillian Bell

IFC Films will open Sword of Trust in theaters on July 12, 2019. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.