Directed by: Lynn Shelton
Written by: Lynn Shelton & Mike O’Brien
Starring: Marc Maron, Jon Bass, Michaela Watkins, Jillian Bell, Tim Paul, Whitmer Thomas
Putting money over ideals remains the value this indie comedy posits to its characters and the audience. Mix that in with some very good comedic talents and that should provide a decent film for one to enjoy, right? Unfortunately, the humor rarely lands and despite some decent performances by the cast this film really drags for something that runs for a mere 88 minutes.
After the passing of her grandfather, Cynthia (Gillian Bell) and her partner Mary (Michaela Watkins), receive a mysterious sword of a confederate soldier that carries some monetary value. That leads the couple to Mel’s (Marc Maron) pawnshop where they broker a deal to find a buyer for this sword, which leads them down a path of unsavory characters, finding the value of revisionist history, and where the truth lies.
Lynn Shelton has become one of those directors where I wish I connected more with her works. She has become well-established in the indie comedy scene and her films have her distinct brand of humor that works for others, but not for me. Just like the other comedies of hers that I have seen, Laggies and Humpday, I find something lacking in the storytelling and the jokes feel incredibly forced. Ironically, the film of hers that I enjoyed the most is Outside In, which leans more into drama with very little humor encompassing the story. With this film, she seeks to taunt confederate truthers or individuals who believe that the south truly won the Civil War. When working at that level, the film conceptually should be funny, but unfortunately, it did not land.
The performers certainly did come to play, which includes Marc Maron, who has been getting more involved as an actor in the past few years. With his role in this film and in Joker, he ascends himself to become a welcoming face on the silver screen because he exudes his very own style of comedy and personality. In this film, he can only do so much, as the script does not give him much to work with. Additionally, this film employs the talent of Gillian Bell, who has enjoyed a productive 2019, with this film and Brittany Runs a Marathon. She portrays a character that has no idea of the value of this item she randomly received from her late grandfather. Again, the story does not give her much beyond that character trait, which feels like a disservice to the great ability she has. The story pits these two and the other supporting characters as rivals and eventually begrudging teammates for the sake of profits.
I wish I enjoyed this film more because it involves creatives that I truly enjoy, but the execution of this story could not reach the heights that the premise promised. Sword of Trust has flown under the radar and I had not even heard of it until I saw it as a screener for the Indie Spirit Awards. Without building much fanfare, this film will most likely disappear into the void of 2019, which will not be much of a disappointment, unfortunately.