Director Lynn Shelton (“Humpday”) pokes fun at conspiracy theorists and white supremacy with an uproarious comedy that is as zany as much as edgy, but with a laser sharp focus. The film, “The Sword of Trust” has echoes of Jim Jarmusch and even the earlier films of Kevin Smith, chock full of kook, yet the pensive quality is unique and stands alone.
Mel (comedian Marc Maron) is a depressive soul who runs a pawn shop in Alabama. Hardly anyone comes in to the store. Mel spends his time being sarcastic to his spaced-out employee Nathaniel (Jon Bass) and avoiding his ex, Deidre (director Lynn Shelton).
One day a married couple, Mary and Cynthia (Michaela Watkins and Jillian Bell respectively) enter hoping to sell Cynthia’s inheritance: a sword from the Civil War. Mel, noticing it is a Union sword located in the South is impressed. He offers four hundred on the spot.
However, sensing an opportunity, the couple spin a dramatic tale about a Union general surrendering the sword to The South, as an admission of loss. Not surprisingly, Mel does not go for the far-fetched story of the Confederates winning the war and refuses buying the weapon.
After Mary and Cynthia leave in a huff, Mel sees a video ad helmed by pro-Confederates seeking Civil War artifacts for thousands in payout. Mel gets the idea to sell to the conspiracists, taking advantage of their zealotry. He contacts a shady fanatical southerner, who wants to see the weapon in the hopes of furthering the Rebel cause. Mary and Cynthia return eager to get in on the deal.
What follows gets more and more outrageous as stories spin wildly, and bigoted tempers flare.
Maron is terrific as a self-deprecating observer, as is the fierce Watkins and the affectionate and protective Bell. The one-liners are perfect taking on everything from gay rights and Southern pride to gun control. The film is madcap without bombast and it prickles without any cynicism or bitterness. All the better to show its positive colors.
This is a topical comic film that does not overtly cheapen the subject of conspiracy. Rather, it reveals historical fraud through the telling of grandiose irrationale.
“The Sword of Trust” is a laugh out loud comedy, a silly scythe with thrust. It is both an antidote to and an analysis of our disparate national identities.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org