IFF Boston Review: 'Trigger'
For some rock n’ roll bands, the price of making successful music, is an intensely screwed up personal life. All of the backstage drama between members often leads to powerful creative influences that can be parlayed into hit songs; however the pressures of fame can form a dangerous powder keg. Just one spark of conflict caused by a drug or alcohol induced argument can ignite this explosive potential, tearing the band apart.
A prime example of a commercially popular band that suffered from this problem is the female rock group The Runaways. The pitfalls of fame affected these young women, and they left one another on bad terms. If The Runaways guitarist Joan Jett and lead singer Cherie Currie reunited years later to hang out though, the result would be something akin to the Canadian independent drama “Trigger,” directed by Bruce McDonald and written by Daniel MacIvor.
This touching story focuses on two former female rockers who reconnect after years apart, and rediscover their appreciation for one another. Right from the opening moment, we witness black and white concert footage, of an on-stage meltdown, where Vic (the late Tracy Wright) the bassist for the group Trigger, storms off the stage, as the lead singer Kat (Molly Parker) struggles to maintain her balance.
Leaving this faded memory behind, McDonald fast forwards to over 10 years later, where Kat is a successful music consultant. When we see her again, the prim, neatly dressed woman is rushing around to make a dinner date. We soon learn that she has arrived back in her hometown, to have dinner with Vic, in the hope of getting her to attend a “women of rock” tribute concert.
Vic has remained rather plain over the years, but she’s brutally honest and skeptical of Kat’s motives for meeting up. From the moment the pair sits down, they are right back at each other’s throats. As a few minutes pass though, the ice melts and they start to laugh again.
Kat somehow manages to con the shy Vic into attending the “women of rock” tribute, and they set off on an adventure downtown that will last them the entire night. The two women bounce from place to place, as they relive some of their glory days, and catch up on what they missed over time. They share deep conversations that question love, addiction, and mortality as well as further challenge the bonds of their freshly rekindled friendship.
As a director, Bruce McDonald keeps it simple, allowing the energy of the actresses and the strength of Daniel MacIvor’s dialogue to largely keep audience interest. For the most part this strategy is effective, however some beats hold on for too long, like a conversation the pair has about Vic’s former Scottish lover.
McDonald does an interesting thing with Vic’s character, where she hallucinates occasionally. In these moments, Vic sees a dark version of herself, almost a ghost of her past and her demons, encouraging her to give into temptation. She’s forced to face this demon head on, and to fight off its advances. Because this additional development is given to Vic but not to Kat though, it makes the film a bit uneven, since you don’t get a chance to know Kat as well, and to sympathize with her position.
If you’re looking for a musically heavy film featuring epic performances and tracks from the old days you won’t find it here, however if you like simple stories that involve life changing conversations where friends reconnect, then you’ll enjoy “Trigger.”
My Grade: B+