Just rewatched Trigger, the 2010 Bruce McDonald film about two former bandmates meeting up a decade after the band broke up.
One now works in LA in TV, the other is still in Toronto working on new songs but without a deal.
Their old friendship bonds clash with their old grudges, and their different addictions and approaches to rock music bubble and simmer.
It’s mostly just the two of them talking, arguing and sparking off each other over the span of a night around a tribute show for their former band Trigger.
There are echoes of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Louis Malle’s My Dinner With Andre (a film McDonald acknowledged as his template.) as well as McDonald’s own earlier work Hard Core Logo. Trigger is written by Daniel MacIvor and almost feels written for stage as much as film, with its set pieces dominating the film’s 78 minutes. In many ways it’s a far better sequel to Hard Core Logo than the disappointing HCL 2.
So at this point you’re thinking you don’t like rock band movies, or you hate talky films, or films that really look more like staged plays. So what makes Trigger special?
The stars are the late Tracy Wright, who died of pancreatic cancer shortly after finishing the film, and Molly Parker. Trigger were a female band, Bikini Kill’s Rebel Grrrl makes the excellent soundtrack. And by my estimate less than about 3 minutes of the film *fail* the Bechdel Test.
Yes two women talk about careers, addictions, betrayals and shared experiences without talking about men. At all. There’s a homoerotic hint or two, though Vic (Wright’s still defiantly indie guitarist) has a male partner (a typical Don McKellar cameo) but is hit on by another woman and Kat (Parker’s manipulative but insecure Hollywood ex-singer) has a momentary fantasy scene with several strange men. Vic’s fantasy scenes are a haunting temptation to pick up the needle again. Kat’s are around booze.
Even when Vic talks about love it’s almost metaphysical and specific guys are barely acknowledged. Instead we see, as much as are told despite all the words, something more complex between these women. They’re idealistic, cynical, fatalistic, romantic, tragic and comic in turns.
MacIvor’s script is witty and sharp (“a drunk is just a messy junkie”, “rock’n’roll is an odour!“) but the chemistry between the leads makes it live. Other cameos from Callum Keith Rennie and Julian Richings are almost just breathing points as Parker and Wright are so dominant.
The result is a film that is simultaneously jaded and cynical and romantic and uplifting about the power of rock’n’roll and friendships. It goes nowhere but visits everywhere along the way. As Vic says “There is no everything. There’s just me and my everything.”