Bruce McDonald is one of Canada's best working directors, second only, in my mind, to David Cronenberg; right now, Cronenberg gets to hold onto that spot due more to his record than his current output. McDonald is sort of like Canada's answer to Robert Rodriguez, in that he makes interesting movies quick and on the cheap; the major difference is that McDonald's movie are almost always great. Rodriguez is an expert at making B-movie pastiche; McDonald is capable of making touching and even subtle films regarding punk music, teenage angst, and infected words that turn people into mindless zombies. Advantage: McDonald.
TRIGGER is one of two new movies by McDonald, both of which played the festival. I opted out of catching THIS MOVIE IS BROKEN, despite it's interesting premise, since I'm not a fan of Broken Social Scene. Still, the fact that the man has two new movies playing simultaneously shows you his work ethic.
In many ways, TRIGGER is the spiritual sequel to McDonald's best-known film, HARD CORE LOGO. And that's not surprising; Daniel MacIvor, the screenwriter, was asked by McDonald to produce a MY DINNER WITH ANDRE-style script which would feature Joe Dick and Billy Tallent, the main protagonists of McDonald's earlier punk masterpiece. When Hugh Dillon (the man who was Dick) wasn't able to fix his schedule for the shoot, McDonald and MacIvor decided to re-write the script for two female leads.
So what you get with TRIGGER is the story of Kat (Molly Parker) and Vic (the late Tracy Wright), the main ingredients behind the eponymous band Trigger, which broke up a dozen years before the movie takes place. Kat and Vic reunite for a "Women in Rock" festival, or some such thing, and in doing so set to reminiscing and airing their grievances. Both are addicts: Vic escaped death-by-heroin years ago, and keeps things straight, while Kat is a recovering alcoholic. Both have taken completely different paths in life: Kat, who remains shockingly youthful, is some sort of big-whig consultant, while Vic is putting together a solo album of acoustic work and is just happy to still be alive.
What makes TRIGGER work so well is that their history is instantly believable. From the moment the two characters begin to talk, you can feel all that history. You can even believe that they're both ex-punk rockers (despite the fact that the one concert scene clearly displays that neither actor can actually play their instruments). While Molly Parker is great, as always (I'll always think of her as Alma Garret from "Deadwood"), it's Wright who just owns every fucking second of this movie. Her Vic is a strong woman who has lived a hard, hard life, and shows every minute of her struggles on her face. She is toughened by the life she's lived, but she's also struggling just to keep it all together.
At one point, around half way through the film, Vic begins a monologue that lasts, I'm guessing, at least five minutes, and probably more. The scene is an extreme close-up of her face, and there are no cuts. It's just one, incredibly long monologue, reminiscent in many ways of Harry Dean Stanton's lengthy monologue in PARIS, TEXAS. It's just incredible to watch. You just keep wondering: why wasn't Wright in more things? Why wasn't she lauded, celebrated? Why isn't there a fucking statue in her honour.
So, long story short, go see TRIGGER, if you get the chance. It's better than that shit you were gonna watch anyway.