The Tracey Fragments


(Bruce McDonald, 2007)

Boy, do I ever feel foolish.

The entire reason I wanted to see this movie was that I could’ve sworn it was directed by the same guy that made Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland. Alas, when I look up Bruce McDonald’s IMDB page, I see a lot of TV work, including many episodes of “Degrassi: The Next Generation”, and very few movies (although I did enjoy his quirky Highway 61). Turns out it was Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald I was looking for. Don’t hate me, I just can’t be bothered to do any research.

That said, it appears this film finds Ellen Page entrenched in her “Teen Wolf” period.

For those of you who need further explanation: in August 1985, Atlantic Releasing Corporation released the title-says-it-all comedy Teen Wolf, featuring Michael J. Fox, star of the blockbuster Back to the Future. The gamble of releasing a previously shelved film only one month after its star appeared in a critical and financial success paid off for all concerned. With regards to Fox, an emerging actor reaped the benefits of cutting his teeth in smaller films.

Fast forward to Winter 2007 AKA The Winter of Ellen Page and Juno, which both became household names and netted several awards in the process. Suddenly, Ellen Page projects started appearing everywhere, including Smart People (April ’08), The Tracey Fragments (released stateside in May ’08), An American Crime, (which premiered at Sundance in 2007 – but didn’t make it to Showtime until May 2008) and The Stone Angel (premiered at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival and barely released in July ’08).

Again, this type of flooding the market is hardly unusual, but it probably doesn’t do much good for Ellen Page, other than financially. None of these other pictures showcase the talent that she exhibited in Juno. And Page’s agent better work hard at getting her better pictures soon, or her window of opportunity will likely close. Locking down Jane Eyre is a good sign, but it would have been awesome to see Sam Raimi get a hold of her.

Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a review of The Tracey Fragments. It’s no more than a student film, or more accurately, a TV director’s take on an art film. It’s self-consciously arty, and entirely dependent on artifice, like layering and split-screen effects. There’s really zero story, which is further compounded by the obtusely irritating post-production work. Page works hard, but is undercut by all the editorial noodling.

Hmmm. If only Kevin Macdonald had been at the helm…


Note to self: Hire an editor AND a researcher.


Posted on August 11, 2008, in Film log and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Haven’t seen this, didn’t know it was out on DVD, but remembered it when I saw it here in your blog because when it first came out I saw some guy on TV absolutely tear it to friggin’ shreds on a critic’s corner. (No, it wasn’t Gene Shalit.) He hated so much it makes me want to rent it.

  2. It’s not awful, but you’ve got to put your arthouse hat on.

    These days I watch a lot with the subtitles on. It definitely helped here, partly to keep me awake. If you’re like me, you’ll be transfixed by all the lovely shapes all over the screen, and completely stop paying attention to the story.

    Re: critic’s reaction. I feel the same way about Speed Racer. I’ve heard it panned so badly, that I totally need to see it.

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