"A fierce, stark, implosive crawl through the adolescent pscyhe of a tortured 16 year old, inimical to her sorroundings and wrung to desolation by her temerity. Maureen Medved's eerie expose' of a rape victim's fragile self-desecrating self is redrawn by the Canadian author herself, with the complicitous and postmodern applications of director Bruce McDonald. The plot does not cover much ground, but that which it does range over it digs deep within. The warped sense of intimacy that we see Ellen Page's leading character tarry within is portrayed with such a vivid, terrific and terrifying virulence that we see before our very eyes the perils that it promises. The loneliness and alienation is confided to us by the mere strains of personality that Tracey Berkowitz betrays in her gall, a reactive toughnes within which tracey fenced herself while coiling about her the trimmings of a barbed wire. The movie disorients and bounces, tatters and titters, fidgets in a continuous flourish of images that synchronically and diachronically impose themselves on the screen in adjecent, fading and overlapping fragments. The pattern of the narrative is sporadic and laden with the logic of a psyche that cannot make sense of what it is suffering, as much as it caves within this same pain for fear that anger and madness have the best of her. How stirring to watch the most talented young artist working today engaged in a production of such an entrancing livid urgency. Ellen Page shows us here why she may very well be the best ever. Yes I said it, she is that good. Incredibly so; and if she was showered with awards and applause for Juno, here she deserve nothing short of awe. The movie differs in elemental ways from the novel it adopts its script from. The blizzard, the rape scene and the ridicule Tracey is subject to at school is dealt with in a very different reality. It actually adds a dimension to the narrative. Musings and dreamy aspirations are thwarted and tentaizingly strewn about the screen to echo the thoughts of a girl who is gearing to meet her fate as if by choice. Her parents are more sympathetic but insensitive and disruptive, if not altogether psychologically and emotionally violent all the same. The performences of Ari Cohen and Julian Richings are compelling, animated and free of the predicament of being cast in roles of such a perforating indiffference. Thinkfilms takes a risk in this production, for the topic of adolescent rape is somewhat of a taboo, especially if depicted in such realist and matter-of fact terms. The psychology is drawn about with bursts of anger and surreal sessions with a stone-faced therapist that in a void of whiteness delivers an insatiable array of innuendos, particles of a methodology that arrests its purpose as it seems incapable of offering a dialogue to a tormented mind. The soliloquies and voice-overs of the leading character are effective and demonstrative, often slurring through the scenes and designating a tentative memory double guessing itself. The frustration of being tit-less, an "it" according to her classmates, is a wound inflicted on Tracey too debilitating for even her feigned callousness. She carries herself as if burping lava sliming along announcing the eruption that never happens full force. A throttle that will release tension in a rape scene where she fantasizes she is making love with her boyfriend. She will at a later time while addressing us, on a bus running from reality, even claim that her rapist was actually her lover, several frames before we come to fully realize the truth of things. She insists that he "put his c*** in me and then said I love you, exactly in that order." How painful to recall that phrase. She is fearless indeed, but the tenderness is so pervasive we want to reach out to her and embrace her with a tight hold that may provoke her to at least surmise as possible that someone cares about her. The fragments of the story are shuffled with the overriding narrative of Tracey's brother Sonny's absence. She tells us she has not so much as run away as gone to retrieve her brother. This may function as an allegorical device if we run that route. Sonny disappears in conjunction with the rape scene, which I must add is innocent in its graphic covertness, but more powerful because of it. Do not have a minor watch this movie! It is too much even for mature audiences. But if art is a means to insights this movie succeeds admirably. It is a viewing that will haunt you more than any horror flick could ever wish to.The emotional starkness inscribes a feel of verisimilitude that is quite unique. The language is rouch and vulgar, but necessarily so. The psyche of a tortured, violated, thwarted and crushed adolescent girl is rendered in shattered pieces the spectator will be left picking through in an attempt to satisfy the fragility we are left with upon finishing the movie. It is one of the most exceptional movies ever made, one that deploys postmodern language in a way that is not pretentious or ineffectual. It hits the spot, problem is that it leaves a deep wound where it hits."
Michael Hanna | San Antonio, TX | 07/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Tracey Fragments is an intense film. Yes, there is a lot going on on the screen pretty much all the time, but the fact is that if you watch this on a big screen and commit to piecing together the fragments of memory and emotion, this film can be a very rewarding experience. The film provides a window into the mind of a troubled fifteen-year-old girl named Tracey, and so the facts are necessarily disjointed and are colored (sometimes to the point of distortion) by the subject's emotions. I walked out of the theater feeling pretty blown away. The story itself is a powerful one, and the active viewer should experience a kind of slow burn of gradual realization (both about Tracey and the [mostly] poor excuses for people who populate her world) as they gather the scattered pieces of the subject's mind. Then as the film concludes and the viewer is able to assemble all of the pieces into a single image of who, how, and why, the suddenly unified plot makes a sudden and forceful impact. Though less than an hour and a half, the film is packed with at least as much substance as one would find in a conventionally executed 120-minute drama. Tracey is overwhelmed by her circumstances and the degree to which she feels responsible for her brother's disappearance, and the film unfolds with a palpable sense of panicked urgency, thanks in large part to the many rectangles of memory and imagination which populate the screen throughout the course of the film. Ellen Page once again manages to be simultaneously realistic and larger than life as the complex and tragic heroine. This is a film that demands repeated viewings to be fully appreciated. Impatient and passive viewers should steer clear of this film; it wasn't made for them anyway."
Self Indulgent Film Maker Ruins What Could Have Been
W. Dent | Baltimore, MD | 02/28/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Ellen Page is a wonderful and talented actor, make no mistake about it. I picked this film up because of her involvement. Indeed, her performance is nothing short of amazing which is pretty much what I have come to expect. She delivers consistently to a strong storyline about a teenager who struggles with life and her place in it. Everything that would make a great film is present in this one with one very important exception. When the film reaches us, the buying and interested public, it comes with split screens that never stop. I stayed with the movie from beginning to end and found myself hoping that the split screen stuff would end after the opening credits but it did not. The presentation of the story gets diluted by this rather disjointed method of delivery. Rather than enhancing our understanding of what is going on and supporting the acting in a non-obtrusive way, the camera/split screen "technique" draws attention unto itself as if the film maker wanted to play a bigger role than that of the actors or for that matter, a bigger role than the story itself. What I am sure passes for art to the film maker is nothing more than a loud obtrusive person at a party where everyone is forced to accommodate the show off rather than to just enjoy the party. The storyline is forced upon us in an unpleasant array of screens which with a little work on the part of the audience, pieces the story together but does not afford an enjoyable experience all told. I felt like I had endured the movie at ending credits. The one positive element of The Tracey Fragments with which I walked away is the confidence that his method of presenting talented acting and a great story is not revolutionary. We won't be subjected to this kind of ego driven film making as a rule because it just doesn't work. And neither does this film."
"This is a brilliant film, visually captivating and with a magnificent performance from Ellen Page. Perhaps most interesting is how the mood of the film, helped tremendously by the lighting and color choices for the scenes, perfectly captures the feeling of being a teenager caught up in the intertwined mess of school bullying and family dysfunction, thrust into their own head to fantasize about a way out. Maybe it's too stark and bleak for some viewers. To express the trauma that Tracey is dealing with and reacting to, and how her mind is processing all of it and struggling to assert a self in the midst of it... to present this on screen with such raw feeling is a beautiful, albeit brutal, achievement. I feel very strongly that the artistic choices in how the film is presented, it's broken sense of chronology, the collage and fragmented visuals, the narrative slipping through different forms of memory and blurring between 'fact' and 'fiction', all of it brings the spectator into the psyche of our protagonist, to break down the third person perspective close to experience the story as it unfolds in the mind of Tracey. It probably succeeds as this more than any film I have seen. It is fantastically well done and very stunning.
Realistic, in a surreal way
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 07/15/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ellen Page carries off the fifteen year old Tracey Berkowitz beautifully. She's honest, confused, hormone-addled, bullied, determined, naive, and desperate. She wanders between fantasy, memory, and reality moment by moment, and the kaleidoscopic display on screen captures that. She makes all the wrong choices but for all the right reasons. In her own words, "age fifteen, a perfectly normal girl who hates herself."
The furious father, robotic mother, androgynous therapist, and overly playful brother all appear to us colored by the wild emotional tints of this young woman. Page, in an "extras" interview, characterize Tracey as honest above all. I guess she is. She hangs it all out, all the time, as so many young girls do, and shows us what she sees - even if no one else in the world would see what she does.
This enjoyable film glories in its minimal budget. If you want plot, resolution, and events causally leading to others - well, maybe you haven't spent enough time around teenage girls. This projects a disjoint character that seems entirely too true to teenagers I've known.