Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Tracey Fragments

This Bruce McDonald film in my opinion is really pretentious but has something that it is quite outstanding, another amazing Ellen Page performance. Seems like McDonald really was serious about the fragments part of the title as not only tells the story in fragments but also shows the story in a cornucopia of fragments that proliferate around the screen.

The film is an adaptation Maureen Medved novel with a script written also by her and tells the story of straightforward and outcast 15-year-old girl, Tracey, that uses fantasy to balance her not good everyday experiences with family, school and life in general. According to me it’s a story about rage, frustration and neglect, and her search for salvation in the face of tragedy. The movie tells a few days of her life, but it’s told out of sequence and with multiple views of related situations all shown at the same time in the screen.

I’m not familiar with the book that some say is written in vignettes and if is like that, then I have to say that the movie followed the novel very literally; so much that becomes sort of experimental avant-garde cinema, which is not bad if only it wasn’t done in such an old fashion way that becomes at moments tedious and/or irritating to watch. I wouldn’t have mind if the movie told vignettes and had some split screens, but definitively not all the time. It is obvious for me that the director was also literal about showing what was going in Tracey’s head, as we all do not necessary think linearly and we do have sometimes many thoughts at once. But one thing is thinking and another is watching.

The most annoying thing is that the excellent performance by Ellen Page that plays Tracey is so fragmented that at times it does not make sense or is not that believable. But as is said by the director it took him months to do the editing of what he filmed in 14 days and obviously in the editing her performance suffered with all the confetti shown in the screen. Still when the confetti was reduced to only two-screen split or the very few one-screen scenes, Page’s outstanding abilities are clearly seen.

Still, I’m one huge fan of Ellen Page and as one critic mentioned and somehow I agree, this movie is probably the last time (at least for a long while) where we’re going to see Page performing a strong dramatic character (very similar to Candy Rain or even the raw An American Crime), as “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.” Yes, if it happens is going to be a true shame as she is more than mesmerizing in this role and surely is for me the only reason my eyes were absolutely glued to the screen.

The movie premiered at the 2007 Berlinale where was screened at the Panorama section and won the Manfred Salzgeber Award. Have more awards and nominations mainly at Canadian awards. Still, one award worth mentioning is Ellen Page winning the Best Actress in a Canadian film at the 2008 Vancouver Film Critics Circle, she truly deserves it and more.

If you’re an Ellen Page fan definitively you have to see this pre-Juno movie as she truly is outstanding in this role that I personally find quite similar to Candy Rain. The film absolutely is not for general audiences because of the splitting of the screen, but if you have never seen confetti in the screen and are curious, then perhaps you should give this movie a try. If you do, I’m confident that the story and Ellen Page performance could captivate you more than the confetti.

Enjoy!!! (for Ellen Page performance)

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