by Felix Vasquez Jr., published on April 16, 2008|
The Good: Thankfully were at a point in Ellen Pages career, where we can finally see some of her films from Canada, and hopefully gain a better perspective of her early acting jobs. As a fan through and through, I really want to see what Page has had going for her beyond US projects, and in spite of some interesting cameos from notable Canadian television stars, The Tracey Fragments is Pages show, and one that will prove to be incredibly polarizing when it makes its way to the US. Some parts of it are ugly, and absolutely pretentious, but in spite of those caveats, I quite enjoyed it. The Tracey Fragments is as gimmicky as all hell, an independent film that uses multiple shots of varying sizes to indicate the shattered life of Tracey Berkowitz in all her angst and violent nature, also adding a pop aesthetic that injects a pop graphic novel atmosphere into the rapidly progressing story.
The Tracey Fragments is not so much a singular narrative, as it is one that prefers to observe its characters in multiple angles citing body movement, and facial expression as a means of gaining an essence of their personality and conflict, and more times than not, it works. The constant cluttering of objects and body parts often serves to add a claustrophobia that may further help us to achieve an understanding of Traceys life, while the character herself is nothing more than another self-absorbed teenager with delusions of grandeur.
Even when MacDonald attempts to draw sympathy with her relentless and cruel torture at her high school, shes still nothing more than a shrill and self-centered individual who takes it upon herself to indulge in some sexual fantasies and finds that her brother has disappeared, one day. The following tragic consequences lead to her life on the road after running away, thus the intended multi-panel film acts on this sensation of chaos, and clutter in the life of Tracey. Its quite poetic, if incredibly off-putting.
The Bad: If youre going into this movie with a headache or a bit of a hang over, then prepare to see your lunch again in the bathroom. McDonald approaches the film at such a frantic pacing zapping split screen to split screen, then small screen to small screen, followed by screaming and rapid fire splashes into the story, and its all so frantic, it will without a doubt cause many to give in barely a half hour into the story. The Tracey Fragments poses the mini-screens and various on-screen activity as a way to convey the urgency of certain situations, but the breaking of the fourth wall, paired with many of the fantasies are as pretentious as the deepest bowels of indie film hell can get. From the rock star fantasies Tracey engages in, right down to the climax in the car, theres so much pompous positing, that its often jarring to sit through. Through this haze of fantasies and endless hipper than thou scenarios, McDonald really only forces the illusion of originality, while the story of Tracey is nothing you cant find in a typical teen oriented film. Her school life sucks, her family sucks, her brother is a loon, she cant find a boyfriend, and shes still coming to grips with her puberty, The Tracey Fragments only pretends to be innovative, when really, its just more of the same. And it will definitely form a rift between people who support what is accomplished, and people who despise what it attempts to pass off to general audiences. As for those individuals still swooning over Juno, once they step in to see The Tracey Fragments, theyll have no idea what theyre in for.
Summing up: Ultimately its an incendiary attempt at avant garde flair that will polarize many movie goers still thinking of Juno, honest to blog. However, a multi-tiered narrative is not enough to patch the been there, done that storyline, even in spite of Pages usually memorable performance.
Rating: 2,5 out of 4