TIFF2010 - Trigger

I'll double back to do the rest of my Day 4 films later, but I wanted to get my report on TRIGGER out before it seemed too far away.   So, it was the official opening film of the new TIFF Lightbox building - earlier in the day, they had a block party and had opened the place for folks to check it out for free, and there were still loads of people milling about when I arrived to get in the ticketholders line.  It is a beautiful building, and I took some pitifully bad pictures on my iphone which I posted to Facebook earlier.  The theatres are on  the second floor, and as you would expect, are beautiful.  Comfortable chairs, great sightlines, commodious but without feeling like you're in a huge barn.  As I sat watching the crowd mill in, I spotted so many familiar faces, among them Patricia Rozema, Atom Egoyan and Ellen Page, and tons of folks with filmmaker credentials on their lanyards - all headed to the regular seats, not the four full rows marked as Reserve.  I saw and heard several conversations in which folks talked about how they knew Tracy, or how they were involved with TRIGGER - it made it very clear how much the film community in Toronto and Canada is a small town, with maybe two degrees of separation at most, it would seem.   All the TIFF biggies were part of the film's intro, and Bruce spoke only briefly, mostly to introduce the cast and producers and Daniel, and to thank the Toronto film community for all of its help.

TRIGGER is about the reunion of two old friends, ten years after the acrimonious break up of their band, Trigger.  It's a film about two women who have known each other since childhood, fighting and talking and connecting over fears about love and intimacy and identity and vocation and aging.  It was hard to watch this film, not just because it was Tracy's last project, but because the dynamic between them was so true, it made me think about my old friendships & how we negotiate being our 40something selves between each other - it's a rare thing, to see two fully realized and inhabited female leads on film, without constraint to be anything other than themselves.  And, aside from a few brief cameos, most notably from Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie and Sarah Polley, the film is all Molly and Tracy.  And they fill it to overflowing - I loved seeing Molly being snarky and flirty and goofy in ways US TV hasn't let her be (yet, I'm hoping), and Tracy has a devastating monologue towards the end that stays on a tight close-up of her, showing how, even with great dialogue, Tracy could say acres more than words could convey with that amazing face, those eyes.  At times, though, I did get pulled out of the film - she looked tired, and often the topics of discussion had eerie overlays with her life or my memories of her...but in an oddly right way, those still worked to support her characterization of Vic. 

At the end of the film, there was a moment of pause - regaining composure, taking it in, and then the audience gave a standing ovation.  The whole lot returned to the stage, and a couple of questions were taken from the audience, usual ones about how much was improv (none, really), how long did they shoot (8 days, over 4 weekends), but really folks didn't have much to ask - Daniel wanted to point out that Tracy was in great spirits during the shoot, and Jennifer wanted to make a point about the way in which the music community came together in support as well (they held a benefit concert with popular local bands, and folded the film scenes into it - they raised $2500 for a local cause), at which point Don asked to speak, to underscore how incredible the support was.  Michael posted a link to an article that had his speech, which I've included in a comment below this post.   He got choked up about halfway through it, and a couple of times started to motion to give the mic back, only to keep on - at one point even starting to laugh at himself, that he was still talking.   He started by explaining how impossible it is, to make movies happen at the speed at which this one occurred - the level of support needed to do it so overwhelming - and he talked about his initial skepticism that it could be done, or if it would be a good thing for Tracy (the distraction of it versus the energy output needed to do it), but that when it did come together in a week, and it began, he realized that this was what Tracy loved best, how could it be anything but the best thing, and that this, seeing a great actor doing the work, her last great work, was a flame to people who flocked to help and work with her and a testament to how important that work was and is, to Tracy and Toronto.

No one could muster anything else to ask, or say, after that, of course.  

I can't really give a cats rating for TRIGGER yet, though - I feel like there was so much other stuff mixed in with the film at that screening, that I can't be objective right now - but I think it's the best work both women have done, I think Daniel outdid himself yet again, and I think Bruce has reached a whole new level for his work and style. 

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scolford's picture

 Oh, thank you for your report on this. We're all so eager to see it, of course. Don said those things when we saw them last -- about the film being a distraction for Tracy -- and I was struck then as I am now with the idea that things that need to get done just get done.

God bless those guys. By that I mean, "those Canadian artist-types." I am sure that not all artists in Canada appreciate it, but those folks who all know each other clearly embrace each other as family. And family is a hard thing to find.

Here's the link to the indiewire article that includes a transcription of what Don said: