Based on Maureen Medveds novel of the same name, The Tracey Fragments sees director Bruce McDonalds (Hard Core Logo) return to semi-grace. Shot in two weeks for half a million bucks, with Toronto-centric cameos and a soundtrack composed by Broken Social Scene, Fragments has the usual Bruce McDonald cred.
Teenaged social misfit Tracey Berkowitz (Ellen Page) runs away from her small-town home after the disappearance of her younger brother. While wandering the streets she gets caught up in fantasies about her nutty psychiatrist (Julian Richings), crappy parents and glam rock high school crush, Billy Zero. She also ends up in a few precarious, sometimes brutal, situations that are probably ahead of her time. Pretty typical angst-y, teenage, come-find-yourself film fodder. But the approach to the material is anything but.
Non-linear and presented entirely in split screens of varying sizes and film stocks, McDonald may have taken the "fragment part of Medveds title a bit too literally. Broken up into alternate scenes and camera angles, and not in a structured Timecode-ish way, more in a style reminiscent of Mondrians paintings, the idea is to have the audience "edit the movie by deciding what to watch. While at times, the approach is kind of neat and no other film has ever done it to such an extent, it does get exhausting to have every panel on screen in constant flux, with a complete lack of predictability.
Surely the device is meant to mirror Berkowitzs chaotically shook up adolescent mind, and Page is no doubt great at portraying this, but the general moviegoer is just not ready for this kind of battery. Give us back the Bruce that made Highway 61. (Alliance Atlantis)