Classic Hollywood films like Grand Hotel and Dinner at Eight had huge casts filled with movie stars and character actors whose personas were so sharply drawn and instantly familiar that the moment the performers appeared onscreen, audiences knew what type of role to expect, and could rest assured the character would be well-portrayed. These films were glorious showcases for actresses now largely forgotten (Marie Dressler, Billie Burke) and still iconic (Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford).
Trust Me, a sometimes sharp-toothed look at the Machiavellian machinations of the modern film industry, calls those films to mind (as well as Altman’s The Player) with its supporting cast of scene-stealing actresses (Molly Shannon, Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash) and actors (Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Clark Gregg) who’ve all carved grooves for themselves as magnetic, eccentric talents.
Gregg, who wrote and directed the film, stars as Howard Holloway, erstwhile child star turned struggling, low-level talent agent. After his last client is poached by sleazy hotshot agent Aldo (Rockwell), Holloway stumbles into representing 13-year-old Lydia (Saxon Sharbino), a precocious novice/Lolita-type with a plot-jarring scheme up her sleeve.
The film isn’t as biting as The Player or Swimming with Sharks, and neither Howard’s struggles nor Lydia’s mystery is a match for the electricity of the supporting actresses in their brief roles. Somewhere in that fact lies inadvertent commentary on Hollywood’s ongoing cluelessness regarding what to do with its overstock of female talent.