Comments on watching and making films.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

DVD- The Tracey Fragments

I can't be sure on this, but I don't think The Tracey Fragments ever got a "real" theatrical release in the States. By "real", I mean playing cities other than New York and L.A. for a week to film critics/fanatics, and whoever else happened to pick up on the fact that it was playing. I wish it would have, because this is a film that demands to be seen on a big screen. It's visual style is such, that it suffers a bit from watching it on DVD, and I would go so far as to say that you probably would be wasting your time trying to watch it on a portable DVD player or iPod.

The Tracey Fragments is a Canadian film by director Bruce McDonald, and starring one of the most incredible actresses of her generation - Ellen Page. Page is Tracey, a fifteen year old girl who can't reconcile her reality with real reality. Through a multi-frame screen, we see the bits and pieces that make up the story of her daily life, from being made fun of at school, to crushing on the new boy, to accidently loosing her brother in the woods, to spending days trying to find him. To try and describe the effect of the multi-frame screen is pointless, you just have to experience it, but it makes you feel the same way that Tracey feels - unsure of herself, and on information overload.

I LOVED this film. Page's performance is such that you completely buy into the idea that she is this fifteen year old girl, whose hypnotized her brother into thinking he's a dog, fantasizes about the 80's new wave dressed new kid, and who drives busses late at night to knock herself out of her depression. I'm not really sure what to say about McDonald's directing, because Page pretty much carries the whole story. All of the other characters almost seem like background noise, and with so many things going on on the screen, who has time to keep up with them anyway? The "Mondrian"-style panels give the film an energy and frenetic quality that is akin to the teenage life at fifteen. Your world is changing at lightning speed, and you're having massive amounts of information thrown at you at once, and this is exactly what McDonald's visual experiment does, putting up dozens of layers on the screen at once, to give you differing views of the action, and, at times, slightly different performances. It makes you really feel like you're seeing a story from all sides.

This film isn't for everyone. The panels might throw the casual movie-goer out of the story. The story, itself, is also fairly simple, and, had McDonald not used the panels and multiple take in the same shot (in other words, if he had told it straight-forward, nothing special), the film would probably be a little boring. It's McDonald's commitment to his style, and Page's electrifying performance, though, that make this film one that you need to watch.

Trailer's below - 

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