Dancing on the knife’s edge

Trigger a must-see character study on picking up the pieces of a broken friendship

A scene from the new Bruce MacDonald film, Trigger. Winnipeg Film Group

Canadians have long had a love affair with rock ‘n’ roll cinema, and no one has done it better than Bruce MacDonald.

Roadkill, Highway 61 and Hard Core Logo all serve as examples of excellent storytelling with a background of the sweat and danger that is rock ‘n’ roll.

As I approached this film, I prepared to be washed in the excrement that is a touring rock band, knowing only that the film’s subjects were band members.

Vic (Tracy Wright’s swan song before succumbing to pancreatic cancer last summer) and Kat (Molly Parker) left a volatile band relationship in Trigger a decade earlier, and the film is about the evening they see each other again after the absence.

The starting montage says it all: Kat is the pissed front woman and Kat is the agitated junky with an axe to grind with her bandmate. 

Then jump to the reunion in a posh restaurant, high above Toronto, where a still-agitated Vic waits an hour before Kat strolls in. Kat tries to extend niceties, which are immediately swept away by the righteously angered Vic.

This begins our My Dinner with Andre part of the film, a twisting and intriguing conversation that takes us on a very slow (and satisfying) ride watching these two navigate the tender wounds left by drug and alcohol abuse that have tortured the two women off and on over the last 10 years.

Various avenues of treatment have followed these two now-sober women to the point where they can run around Toronto to old haunts, past wasted walkways, gig shacks and a “Women-In-Rock” tribute to Trigger.

Each step of the way, the women are vexed by their addictions and their relative comfort in their skin as they wrestle with their present career and life choices.

Surrounded by Canadian alt-cinema royalty (Sarah Polley, Daniel MacIvor, Hard Core Logo’s Callum Keith Rennie and Tracy’s husband Don McKellar), the central conversation only stops long enough to give the viewer a needed break from the intimacy and difficulty of honest conversation.

You will find yourself reminded of visiting with old friends who have drifted apart after a cacophonic event: dancing on the knife’s edge while making sure to be heard.

Watching addicts in this situation is uncomfortable, but when these women attack the issues head on and relieve themselves of burdens along the way, you actually get to see resolution and understand the love the two high school friends had for each other.

A great character study that should not be missed.

Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)

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