March 26, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Trust”


TRUST:  Sunday 10PM on FX – DVR Alert

TRUST is distinguished initially by what it isn’t.  Despite its placement on FX and the fact that it’s a saga of real-life celebrity crime and scandal, it’s not a Ryan Murphy production.  And although it tells the story of the 1973 kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III and the ensuing behavior of his tycoon grandfather, it’s also not Ridley Scott’s All the Money In the World, the distance between them being typified by the fact that grandpa Getty’s fixer, played as an action hero by Mark Wahlberg in the movie, is here a very middle-aged and well-fed Brendan Fraser.

The creative team behind Trust is led by director Danny Boyle and writer Simon Beaufoy, who previously combined for Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours.  They bring a lighter touch to the material than Scott.  Episode 1 is dominated by Donald Sutherland and Harris Dickinson (an English actor who made a critical splash with Beach Rats), as the elder and younger J. Paul Gettys.  All of it until the last few seconds takes place before the kidnapping, and the luxury of a TV-series runtime allows Boyle, Beaufoy and Sutherland to indulge in much more detail about the surreal existence in Getty’s manor house Sutton Place.  The famous pay phone for guests is there, but so much more.  Sutherland’s Getty is a magnate and a poobah who keeps a harem of card-playing women in the manor to await his call, but he’s also pathetic (he has his own clothesline for his socks, and can only perform with his women with the help of medication, some of it requiring injections in sensitive places) and something of a comedian, who agonizes his mistresses by appearing to host a lavish dinner party welcoming a new member to their group, only to reveal that the new lady in his life is a lion.

Getty’s grandson seems at first like a breath of fresh air compared to his dissolute sons, a bell-bottomed, long-haired free spirit who knows a surprising amount about art and who catches on quickly to the oil game.  He plays his own greed carefully, takes the old man’s eccentricities in stride, and seems to be on the verge of nabbing the big score and becoming his grandfather’s heir, until he’s sabotaged by his own jealous father (Michael Esper).

Boyle brings his customary coiled energy to the project, and Beaufoy keeps a lot of complicated exposition in constant movement, allowing the humor of Getty’s sheer weirdness to poke out of the corners of his awfulness.  They’ve been given a sumptuous budget, in what appears to be FX’s bid to produce at the same level as The Crown.  Sutherland, at 83, throws himself into this big fat role with gusto, and he and Dickinson spark off each other with energies that are decades apart but similarly unsavory.

Trust has barely started the meat of its story, and along with Fraser, visible for just a minute or two in the opening hour, Hilary Swank has yet to appear as young Getty’s mother, the role played by Michelle Williams in Scott’s film.  It’s quite an accomplishment for the show to be so engaging already in what was basically a set-up hour, even as it tells a story already told less than 6 months ago.  Another 9 hours seems like a profitable investment.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."