SXSW 2019 Review: SWORD OF TRUST

By Jan Hamilton

Synopsis Source: SXSW Participants

When Cynthia & Mary (Jillian Bell & Michaela Watkins) show up to collect Cynthia’s inheritance from her deceased grandfather, the only item she’s received is an antique sword that was believed by her grandfather to be proof that the South won the Civil War. The two attempt to unload the object to a curmudgeonly pawnshop owner (Marc Maron) & his man-child sidekick Nathaniel (Jon Bass). When Mel and Nathaniel discover there’s a black market for the relic, the two pairs reluctantly join forces to sell this rarefied ‘prover item’ to the highest bidder. The adventure that ensues takes the four of them on a wild journey into the depths of conspiracy theory and Southern disillusionment.

This film starts off slow, but builds momentum as it continues. A lesbian couple, Cynthia and Mary (Jillian Bell & Michaela Watkins) hope that the Civil War sword Cynthia has inherited has great historical and monetary value. After taking it to a dour pawnbroker (Marc Maron), it becomes evident there is great interest in the item. They, along with goofy pawnshop assistant Nathaniel (Jon Bass) all agree to go meet the buyer. They travel a great distance in the back of a windowless U-Haul type vehicle.

The “kingpin” (Dan Bakkedahl) who wants to buy it seems to be someone high up in a group of white supremacists and Civil War fans who seek to prove that the South won the war. Fun, terror and unexpected twists are in store for our group. What makes this movie so good is the time spent in the back of the truck, just talking and getting to know each others stories. The four actors are all skilled comedians, and the director Lynn Shelton let them improvise much of the dialog. This results in a funny, touching film that I enjoyed immensely.

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