Film, 2010, 4 stars
Directed: Bruce McDonald
Written: Daniel MacIvor
I like movies that aren't afraid to talk. I love that there are still some filmmakers out there prepared to let their characters speak. Sometimes it's messy, sometimes it's long-winded, and I'm sure for the action-oriented crowd it is boring as hell in parts, but Trigger had something to say, and it damn well said it.
The film's opening scene in a restaurant, that was both pretentious and absolutely perfect, brings back visions of My Dinner with Andre, where two characters sit in a restaurant and battle out their issues with one another. Trigger doesn't go that far, it does eventually remove our two heroines from the confines of that awkward space, but only to let them loose again on their old stomping ground to work through powerful grievances that have been brewing for a long time.
The film revolves around two women, Kat and Vic (played with enormous versatility by Molly Parker and the late Tracy Wright) who are reuniting after ten years apart. Together they were Trigger, a pop/punk band that reached a certain level of fame - if not so much fortune - before Kat became a fall-down drunk and Vic disappeared into heroin abuse.
Now clean, they meet on the eve of a tribute to women in rock event, with both a loathing for each other, and a desperate need for understanding and forgiveness. There's a deep, undeniable connection between them even as they bicker, and its a fine line to walk that the actresses tread very well.
During the evening they hash over the past, present and future, sometimes tenderly, sometimes tearing each other to shreds, both with a desperate need for the pity and understanding they know they'll never get from anyone else. Even though it isn't made explicit that the two women were lovers ten years before, they are obviously the love of each other's lives.
Nothing is made explicit actually. If the film has a flaw its that the raw intensity that they have for each other needs an outlet, and I don't think it would have hurt the film to explore this. Instead, the biggest hint we get to Vic's bisexuality at least is a brief encounter with another old friend in a bathroom, that is swiftly cut short because Vic is in no state of mind to be giving any part of herself to someone else, even casually.
It didn't surprise me that screenwriter MacIvor is a playwright - Trigger could have come alive equally well on the stage. If I could draw a parallel, this has the hallmarks of Before Sunrise, another chatty film that crawls a city street scape. Only in Trigger, instead of not knowing each other at all, the two leads know each other way too well.
I love Molly Parker in this. It was fantastic to see her in a lead role. Kat seems almost embarrassed to still be alive after what she went through, determined not to be dragged down again, but part of her desperately wishes she could relive that time of her life when she felt so amazingly alive.
Tracy Wright is a tremendous loss to the acting community. She died of pancreatic cancer shortly after making this film, and if you go in armed with that knowledge it makes the scenes where Vic shares her fears about a possible terminal illness that much more poignant. She was a powerful actress, and this film is a fitting tribute to her. At that point in her life, to make a film all about examining how a life is lived, must have been a surreal experience.