Reel Toronto: Trigger
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Reel Toronto: Trigger

Toronto's extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn't always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

If Bruce McDonald was a baseball team one might say he tends to play better on the road. He’s made some “love letter to Toronto” films, like This Movie is Broken and Picture Claire, but they tend not to be his strongest works. Hard Core Logo, Highway 61, and even Pontypool shows that McDonald is perfectly capable of knocking it out of the park once he’s outside the 416. Trigger, we’re happy to say, is largely an exception to that stay-out-of-Toronto rule.

It’s effectively a “two-hander” play in which two former friends and bandmates come to terms with one another. It’s also a showcase for Tracy Wright, who passed away from cancer before its release. And though it’s a dialogue-heavy film that makes use of few locations (and it was hardly difficult detective work for us) it’s still a surprisingly lovely slice of Toronto.


The first, long scene is a dinner between Wright and Molly Parker at a fancy restaurant with a nice view of the skyline. Gee, this is tough! If only we had more clues. Hmmm.

They also have nice elevators with lots of beige marble. Darn, this is just so familiar. Just one more clue…?

Oh, we think it’s probably Canoe. Yeah…

Then they go walking down Queen Street West…

…by Cowbell in Parkdale…

…and end up in the lineup outside The Mod Club (which, yeah, is up on College)…

…and go inside.

Then they head outside and go back across town to Allan Gardens

…to the indoor conservatory where Liam Neeson goes to suck face with Amanda Seyfried in Chloe. Tracy Wright gets a few minutes to deliver a killer monologue and then…

… they get in a cab out on Weston Road, in front of Caplan’s Appliances…

…head west, out along The Queensway

…and arrive at an after-party at the Etobicoke School for the Arts. They used the exterior…

…and the auditorium…

…and the classrooms and main hall.

It was around here we started noticing something a bit odd. Do you see it?

Maybe here?

See the sign on the street here?

See the bottles people are drinking? That beautiful, consistent green? Now, we don’t begrudge Canadian filmmakers trying to get a few bucks to get a movie made and, hey, we like a nice bottle of Steamwhistle on a hot summer’s day, but the sponsorship is just a bit in-your-face here.

Anyway, finally the sun comes up and you get some rather lovely shots like this…

…and the the ladies end up watching some tai chi in what looks like Trinity Bellwoods Park.

In addition to its two leads, the film also features cameos from the likes of Bob Martin

Don McKellar (Wright’s real-life long-time partner)…

…a nearly unrecognizable Sarah Polley

…and Callum Keith Rennie.

The main actors in Trigger are damned near perfect, at least as old friends. As a band, a bit less so (you’ve got to move your hands on the neck of the guitar, girls!). Still, Trigger does more right than wrong and serves as a reminder that when McDonald and company are on, they can still bring it.

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