The Trigger Effect

A commendable but ultimately perplexing failure. This ambitious first feature by writer-director David Koeppwhose writing credits include Apartment Zero, Carlito’s Way, Jurassic Park, and Mission: Impossibledeals with the thin crust of civility and communal trust that informs contemporary American life, and the little it takes to slice it through. The cutting edge here is a widespread power outage that’s never explained; the central characters are a couple (Kyle MacLachlan and Elisabeth Shue, both giving very nuanced performances), their infant daughter, and an old friend (Dermot Mulroney, also good), and the movie recounts the siege mentality that sets in among the adults and their neighbors over a weekend. It opens wonderfully and provocatively by tracking a chain reaction of petty gripes from one character to another through a shopping mall, and thanks to the actors and direction continues to hold interest, despite curious gaps in the story line and an abrupt conclusion. One wonders if studio recutting is responsible for some of the confusions. With Richard T. Jones, Bill Smitrovich, and Michael Rooker. (JR)

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