The band is called Trigger and in their day they were something. Ten years later in present day Toronto the two lead women of the band reunite in a sterile restaurant that smacks of everything their music was once in revolt of. They haven’t spoken since their abrupt onstage break-up, and the paths they have taken live in the shadow of what they once were. Kat is late and Vic is seething. Thus begins a conversation that carries them from Harbourfront to Parkdale to Allen Gardens to out of the way high school, devolving and evolving into something organically funny, sad and at times startling profound. In this his second Toronto story of the year, Bruce McDonald has made his own My Dinner with Andre that soaks in the talent and environment of Hogtown in a beautiful swan song for the late Tracy Wright, whose first lead performance as Vic will break your heart.
While still reveling in a medley of pleasures, the reuniting of the Twitch City crew, the original music of Brendan Canning (of Broken Social Scene), the ‘smell’ of Rock n’ Roll, and the guerilla sensibility of a bunch of friends making something on the familiar streets of our home, Trigger is more than a lark. Working from a phenomenal script that broaches the most believable animosities and familiarities of friends and lovers who have grown apart, Molly Parker as Kat and Tracy Wright as Vic are magnificent in their respective roles. Kat, the L.A. sellout, and Vic, the insecure music purist (with her ‘acoustic introspections’), struggle to reconcile their differences with one another and the drunk and junkie identities they left behind. McDonald plays up the inner struggles with theatric asides of the characters fantasizing of falling off the wagon, but mostly the struggles are seething under the surface ready to explode in key scenes.
At some point during the filming of Trigger, Tracy Wright was diagnosed with cancer. The second half of Trigger draws upon this real circumstance, giving Wright a platform to emote about mortality and the anguish of loss. In one particular monologue about the destructive power of love, Wright goes frighteningly deep (how Molly Parker held it together in this movie so well is beyond me). There is perhaps an obligation to say something complimentary about an actor’s final performance but Wright’s inhabiting of the character of Vic transcends obligatory acknowledgement, she steals the movie with her coy honesty – I don’t know what the film was intended to be prior to the diagnosis, but the end result for the film is surely greater.
My only criticism of the film would be that I never fully felt the greatness of the band Trigger, the one song they do perform felt too precious for adoring fans like Piss Flap to respond to. It is sort of taken for granted that they were great back in the day, and all too briefly do they get a chance to prove their mettle. Still, this is a minor criticism considering the great music that is made out of the dialogue which is ultimately the beating heart of this film.
Trigger is available on DVD Tuesday, July 26th.