April 26, 2008
Review - " The Tracey Fragments " (at IFF Boston) - By Roland Hansen
|There seems to be two questions that keep coming up in Google searches that aren't answered in my review. I will give the
answer here. Warning - If you haven't seen the movie yet the answer to the second question contains a spoiler.
What song is playing at the end of The Tracey Fragments? - the song is sung by Rose Melberg and it's called "Each New Day"
(it's the guitar version) - I hope that's the one that people are asking about.
SPOILER ALERT! - What happens to Sonny in The Tracey Fragments? - Simply put Sonny dies. He wanders off while Tracey is
getting it on with her rocker (imagined) boyfriend and is presumed to have drowned in the river. You really don't figure this out
until the end and is a great part of the reason Tracey has gone off the deep end. - At least that's my take on it.
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The Tracey Fragments
Director: Bruce McDonald
Writer: Maureen Medved
Starring: Ellen Page, Ari Cohen, Eric McMurty, Max McCabe-Lokos, Julian Richings
& Slim Twig
15 year old Tracey Berkowitz is naked under a tattered shower curtain at the back
of a bus, looking for her little brother Sonny, who thinks he’s a dog.
Tracey’s journey leads us into the dark underbelly of the city, into the emotional
cesspool of her home, through the brutality of her high school, the clinical cat and
mouse of her shrink and her soaring fantasies of Billy Zero, her boyfriend and rock
‘n roll savior. Her travels also put her in contact with the seedier inhabitants of the
city. Like Lance, her would-be savior who ultimately puts her life in jeopardy.
Tracey’s stories begin to intertwine truth and lies, hope and despair, as we move
closer to the truth of Sonny’s disappearance.
“The Tracey Fragments” is a stirring tragic comedy told in dazzling pop-art fashion.
The film employs multi frame editing to startling effect, pushing the boundaries of
cinematic language to get inside the heart and mind of Tracey Berkowitz.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion. Events do not proceed from A to B to C, and things aren’t always as they seem.
Often events didn’t transpire as Tracey’s fevered imagination tells us. The film is done mostly through multiple split-screen
representing the fragments of Tracey’s shattered psyche. The split screen often shows the same events from different
angles and perspectives. We see snippets of events, some real, some imagined, jumping around the narrative, revisiting
scenes over and over, revealing different aspects of what went on. By piecing together the fragments of the story we
discover what truly transpired to get Tracey to where we find her in the beginning of the film. Eventually enough of the truth
is revealed so that we can see for ourselves the underlying reality.
“The Tracey Fragments” is presented mainly in voice over narration by Tracey herself. The narration is often shocking and
punctuated with bouts and tirades of foul language as Tracey describes for us her dysfunctional family, miserable school
life, condescending therapist, and sexual encounters. Tracey makes odd connections in her mind such as her musings on
death. A girl is murdered and thrown into a swamp, the body decomposes and turns into goo, a flower grows from the spot
where she dies and releases seeds and pollen, the bees gather the nectar from the flower and take it back to their hive
where they make it into honey, the parents buy the honey at the store and in eating it are eating their dead daughter.
Ellen Page is an incredible actress with, hopefully, a
long brilliant career ahead of her. She once again
gives us a magnificent stunning performance of a
teen girl shattered by the tragic events in her life.
The bullying and the family life and the emotions
Tracey experiences are portrayed pretty
realistically by Ellen Page. She is fantastic,
portraying the life of this 15 year old Tracey
perfectly. Her performance was flawless and there
was not a moment in the film where she wasn't
totally believable as the audience learns more
Julian Richings as the arrogant condescending
therapist and Max McCabe-Lokos as Lance from
Toronto provide us with the necessary comic relief.
The directing and editing are often brilliant but is inconsistent. Parts of the movie are like a bad music video. However, The
movie has great moments and is full of original ideas. The script is dark and disturbing and mostly fairly realistic, and most
importantly (or annoyingly), it is very disjointed, you watch the story unfold but you don't figure out what is real and what
isn't, how it all happened and why, until the end.
This film kept me mesmerized the entire time. I was never bored, never once glanced at my watch. The Tracey Fragments
is not for the casual movie viewer. It is necessary to really pay attention to what is going on and is often difficult to do with
the multiple video clips playing on the screen and occasional overlapping sound. It’s hard to know where to direct your
attention. Multiple viewings when the DVD is released later this summer will no doubt reveal aspects of the film that are
missed on initial viewing. It’s a fairly heavy drama. Most moviegoers should probably stick to the standard Hollywood fair
released this weekend. But if you’re in the mood for something different, something bold and innovative, go see "The
Tracey Fragments". You wont be sorry.
You will have to walk out at the end but it gets close.