Is Maria from Trust an Existentialist?

The movie Trust follows a teenage girl, Maria, after she is thrown out of her house. In the story, she meets a man named Matthew Slaughter and starts to dress and act differently. The two of them begin a relationship that would be considered pedophilia because Matthew is in his thirties while Maria is only seventeen. Putting that aside, the movie presents themes of existentialism. However, it is a little unclear whether or not Maria would be considered an existentialist.

In the book The Stranger, we get the perfect existentialist character, Meursault. He doesn’t let social constructs weigh him down and enjoys all of life by living in the moment. At the beginning of Trust, it is pretty clear that Maria would not be considered an existentialist. She is concerned with style, makeup, and love. She intends to marry her football player boyfriend, who got her pregnant. It is presented that she wants nothing more than to be married in life. However, when she meets Matthew, her appearance and priorities change. While some may consider this as her becoming an outsider to society, I don’t think her changing is specifically because she’s becoming an existentialist. Matthew is the one to provide her with new wardrobe and glasses. Even though with the new attire she would be considered an outsider, because Matthew told her to wear it would not necessarily be an existentialist move. Also, at one point in the movie, she asks Matthew if he loves her. He tells her that he admires and respects her, but does not think that mean love. Maria is still concerned with love and trying to find someone who will take a romantic interest in her. If that is something that she is actively working for in life, she would not be considered an existentialist.

All in all, I believe Mattew would be considered an existentialist, but by forcing that way on Maria, she would not be an existentialist. Exitentialism is a idea that one developes naturally. By forcing these ideas on Maria, she would not be an existentialist.

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