The Director of Art-World Drama “Trust” Names His 5 Favorite Date Movies

Brian DeCubellis on the films that inspired one of the first great romantic films of 2021

March 22, 2021 2:40 pm
Victoria Justice and Matthew Daddario in Brian DeCubellis's "Trust"
Victoria Justice and Matthew Daddario in Brian DeCubellis's "Trust"
Vertical Entertainment

Brian DeCubellis is the director of Trust, a new romantic drama based on the play Push by Kristen Lazarian. Set against the backdrop of the cutthroat Manhattan art world, the film relies on some of Hollywood’s biggest up-and-comers (Victoria Justice, Matthew Daddario, Katherine McNamara and Lucien Laviscount) to weave a duplicitous tale of temptation and seduction. A surefire bet for one of the first great date movies of 2021, Trust is now available to stream. Below, DeCubellis dishes on what he believes to be the essential components of a great date movie before highlighting five films that check all the boxes.

While we all miss going out for dinner and a movie, the pandemic can not deprive us of the dinner-and-a-movie date at home. In my mind, the perfect stay-home date movie has the following ingredients:

  1. It must be equally enjoyable co-viewing for you and your paramour, regardless of gender.
  2. The movie sparks great conversation to follow.
  3. Regardless of genre, there should be something FUN about the movie. No downers.
  4. And lastly, the movie should have some degree of romance or sexiness in it that would inspire your conversation to steer into the language of love at the end of the date. 

When making Trust, we were inspired by Closer, the Mike Nichols 2004 relationship drama starring Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen for its quartet of very beautiful people intersecting with each other with drama and wit. Closer is based on the stage play by Patrick Marber, who wrote the screenplay. Trust is based on a play as well, called Push, by Kristen Lazarian, and Closer was also inspirational as being a masterpiece of staging a play as a movie. So Closer gets an honorable mention here, and only didn’t make this list because it gets quite heavy. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen.

Beyond that, here are my top five stay-at-home date-night movies, in no particular order.

Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Based on the Milan Kundera novel, the sexiness of Lena Olin, Juliette Binoche and Daniel Day Lewis discovering each other amidst the 1968 Russian occupation of Prague will mesmerize. Yes the movie is almost three hours, but get lost in the cinematic world of it. The visual-poetry interpretation of the Kundera text is a wonder, as evidenced by the Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography. The photo session scene between Olin and Binoche stays with you forever. Very sexy. Escapism, existentialism, laws of attraction — director Phillip Kaufman mixes documentary styles into the traditional as if in a dream. If you want to really impress your date, read up on The Prague Spring first.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

While definitely set at rom-com ground zero, this movie is such a fun fresh take on a very old story. Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, director Jon M. Chu takes the tale of an Asian American woman (Constance Wu) going to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s (Henry Golding) wealthy family, and creates an undeniably good time. Visually, it’s a colorful feast for the eyes. We played a lot with color and the strategy of color in making Trust, and there’s plenty to learn from the CRA’ gorgeous production design, costume design and cinematography. See how beautifully those three departments work together to create palette. Note how the color emerald green helps tell the story. And shoutout to Ronny Chieng for his funny portrayal of cousin Eddie.

Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)

Before director Alfonso Cuarón became Hollywood royalty, he made one of his best low-budget films out of Mexico — this one. The coming-of-age story of two young men, (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) who go on a road trip with an older and freshly jilted woman (Maribel Verdú) is quite original. Now a word of warning, this film is far from Cuarón’s Harry Potter installment. There’s a sexual frankness in this film that starts in the opening graphic sex scenes between two teens who are about to part for the summer. But don’t be thrown by the lack of censorship — the blend of humor and realness get established from frame one. The cinephiles among you will notice the whole scene is done in one uncut take, and the sense of reality created throughout this film is unquestionable. The chemistry of the trio as the two best friends get to know their older (and stunningly attractive) new travel mate is really special. The crescendo of the sexual tension in the scene portrayed on the poster is as sexy as it gets. In Spanish with English subtitles, but don’t call it a foreign art film.

The Big Sick (2017)

Based on the true story of Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner falling in love, this indie fave has charm to spare. While it may seem like you’re in for a clashing of family cultures story, spoiler alert, Emily gets sick. Very sick. One of the things we filmmakers are always trying to do is make the audience care about the characters. Director Michael Showalter and the cast (Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Aidy Bryant) do an amazing job of getting you to care. The film was the only non-Best Picture nominee for the year to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. The word is that the cast was encouraged to improvise quite a bit as well. A great script for inventive actors is a magical combo here. Another Judd Apatow-produced film with great improv that could have made this list is Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Love them both so much.

Unfaithful (2002)

Director Adrian Lyne has made some of my favorite movies (Jacob’s Ladder, Fatal Attraction), and this one often goes less recognized. Diane Lane plays a bored suburban mom who encounters an attractive stranger (Olivier Martinez) when visiting Manhattan one day. Her marriage to a successful lawyer (Richard Gere) is not enough to stop her from fantasizing about what could happen on the next trip to the city. When reading an early draft of Trust, I was reminded of Unfaithful in certain ways, though Unfaithful is a thriller and Trust is not. However, the element of good people making bad choices is a main part of the fun in both. We still want to root for the protagonist because we want to vicariously indulge in some fantasy bad behavior without consequences. Temptation and forbidden attraction are universal themes to enjoy with your date from the safety and comfort of your living room.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.