(Canada, 79 min)
Dir: Bruce McDonald; Writ: Daniel MacIvor.
Starring: Tracy Wright, Molly Parker, Don McKellar, Lenore Zann, Sarah Polley, and Callum Keith Rennie.
I saw Trigger at the Premiere screening at TIFF, which was also the Grand Opening of the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Trigger was the perfect movie to open the Bell Lightbox, since it was such an important project to many artists within the Toronto film industry. Moreover, as in many of McDonald’s films, Toronto figures prominently, and the cityscape is but one of Trigger’s memorable characters. Additionally, the film features several new groups within the city’s indie rock scene, which is a nice gesture to the emerging performers in Toronto’s cultural community. Trigger also acknowledges the legacy of women in rock – “Save it for Carole Pope,” Vic (Tracy Wright) says to the gushing stage hand played by Sarah Polley.
The inclusion of the bands is most appropriate because Trigger is very much a rock n’ roll movie. The film stars Molly Parker and the late Tracy Wright as Kat and Vic, the two halves of the rock group Trigger, which disbanded a decade ago. Things fell apart due to Vic’s drug abuse and Kat’s alcoholism, as well as the inevitable jealousy and rivalry that come from sharing the spotlight. The dissolution of Trigger is rendered in flashback during the opening credits: it’s amazing how well McDonald et al involve us in the film without a single word of dialogue.
At the concert, Vic continues to resist agreeing to perform, if only to unnerve Kat’s ego. However, almost as a requiem for her wasted youth, Vic jumps on stage and Trigger performs their hit song “Standing Alongside Gone” (written by Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene). Trigger’s onstage reunion is an energetic and jubilant reconciliation.
Afterwards, the film takes a dramatic turn. When Vic and Kat leave the benefit, they continue to reflect on the dissolution of their friendship. While the conversation doesn’t resume the heated tone, it’s still painful; however, this time it’s more cathartic. At this point, Vic explains to Kat what finally lead her to extricate herself from her self-destructive lifestyle. With Vic’s confession, Wright delivers an impassioned monologue that reaches the depths of her character’s despair. It’s an extremely moving scene, and Wright takes us through an enormous emotional register that lingers long afterwards
***Trigger has its "Canada's Top Ten" Screening in at the Canadian Film Institute in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb 19th at 7:00 pm.