Trust – LA Jewish Film Festival 2023

L-R: Josh (Heston Horwin), Kate (Jennifer Levinson), and Uncle Melvin (Michael Raskin) in Trust. Courtesy of Menemsha Films.

After the death of their mother, three siblings return home in Trust, leading to no shortage of family issues as the fighting begins.

Trust was an Audience Award winner during the 2022 Cinequest Film Festival. In watching the film, one can understand why audiences resonated so much. It’s understandable that every family has their own drama. One can only hope that it’s nothing like the Abelman family drama. Throw three neurotic children under the same room and just about everything that can go wrong will go wrong. It sounds like a cliché but it’s just so true. Kate (Jennifer Levinson), Josh (Heston Horwin), and Trini (Kate Spare) all have their own issues. Those issues come home with them for the funeral, for better or worse. As if the funeral isn’t the least of their problems, the will reading for Rachel Abelman certainly will be. All while Kate does not have anytime to fully process what is happening.

Kate has a lot of issues with her father, Damien (Linden Ashby), and it comes through in her mother’s eulogy. It is not pretty. Again, this is a film with a lot of drama. It can come off as a comedy sometimes but that is just how Jewish families can appear in film or TV in general. The most important thing here is that none of these characters are a caricature. Even as the film walks this line between comedy and drama, the humanity is front and center. The shouting, too, but that also goes without saying. With everything going on, Josh is the one who is stepping up big-time with the funeral planning. He’s also Kate’s only ally in the immediate family. There’s a lot of drama surrounding Damien and the divorce–everyone relates to him differently for this reason and more.

This is very much a Jewish film, Shiva setting and all. But there’s some deeper issues at bay here. Trini has become a born-again. She is also histrionic. Neither of which are sitting so well with Kate as the family drama plays out on screen. I’m assuming the family is Reform because of the piano playing during the Shiva. I suppose they could also be Conservative. But regardless of which, Jews are not to play music during a mourning period. I don’t make the rules here but I think back to when I wanted to play my guitar following my paternal grandmother’s funeral. It’s just not a thing that’s allowed.

I can also understand why Kate is so upset upon learning her mother was cremated. I would be, too! Cremation is something that goes against Jewish principles. A lot of this has to do with the coming of Mashiach. When Jews are buried, they are buried with their feet pointed in the direction of Jerusalem. This is to make it easier for when the dead are resurrected when Mashiach comes and Jerusalem is rebuilt. Listen, the Jewish concept of Resurrection can be a lot to take in but it’s a part of the Amidah that Jews pray daily during the three prayer services.

Trust plays into some of the dysfunctional family tropes but it really speaks to the importance of knowing when is the right time to walk away.

DIRECTOR: Almog Avidan Antonir
SCREENWRITER: Jennifer Levinson
CAST: Jennifer Levinson, Heston Horwin, Kate Spare, Linden Ashby, Wayne Wilderson, Tom Virtue, CJ Hoff, Amy Tolsky, Michael Laskin

Trust held its Los Angeles premiere during the 2023 LA Jewish Film Festival. Menemsha Films will release the film at a later date. Grade: 3.5/5

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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.