Trauma Bond (2022)

Director-Writer Jaina Cipriano’s dark drama is a wonderful master class not only in character study but in acting across the board. Cipriano really brings the best out of her small cast, all of whom help to enhance what is a very mesmerizing experience in explorations in trauma, hive minds, and the power of suggestion.

Set in Portland, Zera is in a rut in her life where she’s tied down to a Starbucks Barista job while coming to terms with her past traumas. She re-unites with her long-time friend Crystal who introduces her to her new girlfriend and fling Maxine. Maxine is a new age personality who is boisterous, loud, charismatic and has no idea what boundaries mean. When she begins encouraging Zera to confront her own past traumas, events spiral out of control.

“Trauma Bond” is a fascinating and engaging dark drama that garners some wonderful turns from the entire cast. All three actresses bring their A game, including Madeline Bugeau-Heartt, an inexplicable force of nature who is a mystery even when the credits roll. She’s all at once obnoxious and alluring, loud but entertaining, and she leaves herself open to where she can infiltrate your life before you even realize it. Maxine’s ability to coerce people in to bending to her will is a quality that takes a dark turn almost immediately as her fascination with Zera’s childhood trauma forces her to take a step in to the past and come face to face with memories she’d been trying to push back for years.

Christina Dickinson and Rebecca Dooley are also very good in their respective roles, helping “Trauma Bond” to feel so complete and tightly paced. So much about Maxine is left for us to interpret but it’s also an example as to how persuasive big personalities can be in forcing people to comply with their demands and wishes. Whether or not she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or the reality check that Zera needed is left up to interpretation, but I loved the ride Ms. Cipriano takes us on.