Two Dramas from eOne Films
Don McKay (July 26/11)
Don McKay stars Thomas Haden Church as the title character, a low-key janitor who returns to his home town after his former girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue's Sonny) reveals that she's dying - with the film subsequently revolving around Don's ongoing encounters with the many, many quirky figures in Sonny's life (including Melissa Leo's Marie and James Rebhorn's Dr. Pryce). Filmmaker Jake Goldberger has infused Don McKay with a pervasively (and unreasonably) off-kilter vibe that alienates the viewer right from the get-go, with the oddball, slightly confusing atmosphere ensuring that the movie's denizens come off as one-note, one-dimensional stereotypes from start to finish - which does, as a result, prevent the strong cast from convincingly breathing life into their respective characters on a distressingly continuous basis. Goldberger's deadpan sensibilities, coupled with a disastrously deliberate pace, ultimately lends the proceedings the feel of a second-rate David Lynch rip-off, and it's certainly not surprising to note that Don McKay only grows more and more unwatchable as it progresses. The inclusion of a few unexpected twists towards the end are of the too-little-too-late variety, with the final result an almost aggressively pointless piece of work that simply isn't able to justify its very existence.
Trigger (July 29/11)
Though it boasts fantastic performances from leads Molly Parker and Tracy Wright, Trigger, for the most part, comes off as an aimless and stagy piece of work that fizzles out to an increasingly (and distressingly) demonstrable degree as it progresses. The film, which follows former bandmates Kat (Parker) and Vic (Wright) as they spend one long evening chatting and hanging out, ultimately fares best in its opening half hour, as the radical dichotomy between Kat and Vic - Kat is successful and perky, Vic is struggling and morose - is certainly quite fascinating and there's something inherently compelling within the pair's initial conversations/arguments (eg Vic's bitterness causes her to criticize virtually everything about Kat, including the way she eats her food). Filmmaker Bruce McDonald's needlessly idiosyncratic touches (eg Vic passes a seated version of herself on the way back from the washroom) are, at the outset, relatively easy to overlook, with the movie's watchable atmosphere persisting right up until around the halfway mark - after which point it does become more and more difficult to overlook the actor's-showcase-vibe that's been hardwired into the proceedings. There's little doubt that Daniel MacIvor's stagy, theatrical dialogue only exacerbates this feeling, as the less-than-authentic nature of the various conversations ultimately diminishes the emotional impact of several key sequences - with the most obvious example of this a disappointingly flat scene in which Wright's character, in a single take, relates the story of a life-changing relationship. It's a shame, really, as both Parker and Wright are often riveting in their respective roles, though neither actress is entirely able to compensate for the otherwise erratically paced and executed production.