Published Sep 16, 2009The teen romantic comedy goes socialist in this Montreal-based film about a 17-year-old teen who thinks he's the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky. Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) plays Leon Bronstein (which was Trotsky's given name), a privileged teen desperately trying to follow the life path of his radical namesake.
After organizing a strike at the small factory his father (Saul Rubinek) owns, Leon gets pulled from boarding school and sent to the local public school. Things start to fall into place for him when he meets an older woman named Alexandra (Emily Hampshire) and finds a cause worth fighting against in his new school's repressive administration (led by a menacing Colm Feore). However, inspiring revolutionary fervour in his lacklustre classmates proves challenging and Leon has to resort to extreme tactics.
The Trotsky succeeds mostly thanks to its lead actor, Jay Baruchel, who nails the perfect combination of physical comedy and awkward charm, while giving the role and the film an emotional centre that rings true. There are some other good performances, notably Ricky Mabe and Kaniehtiio Horn as the bemused student union reps who take up Leon's cause, and Colm Feore as the delightfully evil school principal — is he mandated to be in everything produced in Canada?
Some of the supporting cast are less successful, giving over-the-top performances that director Jacob Tierney (Twist) seems to encourage rather than rein in. This gives the film an inconsistent tone that too often ventures into broad caricature.
Still, The Trotsky gets better and better as it progresses and it's hard not to be won over by its hopeful charm in the end. (Alliance)