by V.A. Musetto, published on May 9, 2008|
IT was at a festival in 1991 that I saw Bruce McDonald's "Highway 61" - in which a small-town barber and a young woman strap a corpse to the top of their car and set off on a journey from Canada to the US - and I've still not gotten it out of my brain.
I have a feeling that the Canadian cult director's "The Tracey Fragments" will have the same effect on me.
There are several reasons: First, McDonald's high-
octane approach. He splits the screen into all variety of quadrants that he uses to portray the same fractured events over and over, but from different angles.
Then there's the daring performance by Ellen Page, before she got disgustingly wholesome in the overpraised "Juno."
Here, she's 15-year-old Tracey Berkowitz of Winnipeg, Canada, who's anything but wholesome (every other word out of her mouth seems to be "f - - - ").
"I'm just a normal girl who hates herself," the punkish teen relates at one point. "Happy people fricking depress me," she confesses in another instance.
The kids at school are mean. They call her "It," and make fun of her flat chest. Her only pal is her boyfriend, who goes by the name Billy Zero and looks like Nick Cave. (He's played by rockabilly musician Slim Twig.)
Perhaps Tracey's problems have to do with her dysfunctional family - Dad's a loser and Mom's a junkie who smokes three packs a day. "Just getting her away from the TV is a surgical procedure," Tracey says with disdain.
The girl is seeing a cross-dressing shrink, but he/she doesn't seem to be helping.
When Tracey's brother, 9-year-old Sonny, disappears, she assumes she's to blame because she had hypnotized the boy into thinking he was a dog.
So - wrapped in a shower curtain (long story) - she traverses the city looking for him. At one point she has sex in a car, then gets tossed out before she can pull up her jeans.
I have a feeling that this is the last time we'll see a down-and-dirty Ellen Page. Her handlers have too much wrapped up in her mainstream persona to ever again allow her to do anything as daring and out of the loop as "The Tracey Fragments." And that's a shame.
Rating: 3 out of 4[/b]