People not knowing what they want to do with their life or having a “nowhere” life is commonplace in cinema, and is seen in such movies as “Waking Life”, “The Man Who Wasn’t There”, “Buffalo 66”, “A Simple Plan”, and “American Graffiti”. In “Trenches”,
Adina has the exact same problem, but it’s due to a drug deal gone horribly wrong. While it’s good that writer/director Trevor Hollen didn’t go down the path of redemption for the character (life’s not always like that), there’s just not enough time to really get to know the characters here, and some too obvious symbolism is also present. However, Hollen doesn’t forget the people that might be watching, and provides a clear enough view as to what happened.
In showing exactly what happened that causes Adina to take a look at her “nowhere” life more closely, Hollen shows the situation backwards in flashbacks, but not in a Memento-like style. It’s more in the way of what the character should know at certain times. Lemme explain before I lose more people. At the beginning, Adina is brooding on her boyfriend’s Star Wars couch. Nate, who’s sitting near her, tells her to forget what happened, but Adina certainly can’t do that. We then flash back to the aftermath of the drug deal gone wrong. Later on, after her boyfriend has left, she walks down empty city streets, too obviously symbolizing her empty life. However, director Hollen has a creative way with symbolism during one scene where Adina is sitting in a field, picking at a flower. Before we flash back to the drug deal itself, cars pass by behind Adina on a highway. Hollen has the camera positioned in such a way that the cars symbolize the thoughts that could possibly be passing through her mind. Sure she’s just picking out a flower, and briefly smiling, but her mind’s definitely moving.
Another problem is towards the end where Adina talks with her sister, Marie (Dovie Pettitt). Pettitt looks too bookish to recent her lines convincingly and there are instances where the facial contortions she makes while speaking her lines, shows that she’s trying far too hard. Plus, Adina’s speech at the end over the frustration of her life isn’t all that effective.
Life can be absolute s**t sometimes and it’s apparent that Adina’s found that out. Unfortunately, too few minutes are spared in really examining Adina and while it’s apparent that her life won’t change all that quickly, it would have been nice to go a little further with her.