PAUSE IT: What do you see? A woman, Adrienne Shelly, stands atop a ledge, her feet precariously close to the edge, her back facing out into the unknown. In the background her co-star, Martin Donovan, wonders whether she will jump. Implicit to the composition is the film’s central question: Does she trust him enough to catch her and break her fall? In this still from Hal Hartley’s 1990 indie sensation Trust, the director makes great use of the frame’s vertical axis. Simply put, the camera and the characters it watches can move in one of three ways: From front to back, from side to side, or up and down. Of the these three, up and down movement is perhaps the least implemented. Yet, the importance of vertical movement should not be underestimated. A tilt or craning of the camera can sometimes be just the thing to bring out a film’s visual dynamism, and here we see why. Though only Hartley’s second feature film, in this still we get a strong sense of his eye for composition and a directorial maturity well beyond his years.
Director: Hal Hartley
Cinematography: Michael Alan Spiller
Cast: Adrienne Shelly, Edie Falco, Martin Donovan
Available from Olive Films on DVD and Blu-ray.