The Tracey Fragments - Movie Review
The Tracey Fragments
It's been a while since I gave a bad review, and to be honest, I didn't expect to give one so soon. But here comes the Tracey Fragments, an "experimental" film from Canadian director (eh?) Bruce McDonald, and starring the insanely talented Ellen Page.
In this film Ellen Page stars as the title character Tracey, who after a night looking for her missing little brother, finds herself half-naked on a city bus to nowhere. Her very rigid search is partially a result of her decision to "hypnotize" her brother into thinking he's a dog. The only problem is that when this dog wanders off, you can't just visit the pound to pick him up.
If I were to be handed the script for The Tracey Fragments along with that above synopsis I would say it sounds like the best comedy of the year.
The only problem is, it's not a comedy. In fact, it's as far away from a comedy as possible. It's more easily describable as a teen-psychological-drama with horror influences, mostly because there's a disturbing fat man in a clown costume at one point. You won't laugh, you won't feel good about yourself, but more likely than not, you won't feel any kind of emotion at all. For a story that involves missing children, abusive parents, drug addicts, attempted rape, and a whole host of irredeemable acts, I found that emotional passiveness on my part to be more disturbing than anything else. Frankly, I don't think that's my fault.
The characters are as dimensional as cardboard cut-outs with random psychological symptoms that could be found in a hardcover copy of the DSM-IV written across their faces. Tracey, rather than be illustrated as the down-trodden hero, instead finds herself in a perfect storm of physical and emotional abuse so violent, that it comes off as realistic as The Day After Tomorrow (That's my way of saying it's over-blown, over-hyped, and unrealistic).
In fact, the whole movie is so over the top in it's artistic seriousness, I am more likely to compare it to "Better Off Dead," the teen comedy starring John Cusack, than any other, more affective teen drama, say, Gus Van Sant's "Elephant," or, heck, even "Juno."
The majority of the film is predictably delivered through the tried and true film-major patented method of flashbacks and voice-over narration. The over-arching theme here is clearly "Fragment's." So the film's one card in the deck is multiple split-screens, sometimes even a dozen at once. It gives the film a stylistic feel in the same vein as a comic book, but it is never put to adequate use.
It's all style, no substance. And that "fragmented" screen effect is cool, only until you realize it was put to greater, much more powerful use, in the film Conversations With Other Women, which was sadly overlooked.
Tracy Fragments, I award you no points. For whatever artistic risks you make, you refuse to be entertaining or meaningful in any way.