The Trotsky Jacob Tierney

The Trotsky Jacob Tierney
Born of privilege to an affluent family in an upper-middle-class Montreal neighbourhood, sent to prep school and granted every prerogative that capitalist Western culture can provide, Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel) lacks the identity, ire and emotional development life experiences and struggles imbue. Much like the hordes of moderately educated, urban born, liberal teens and undergraduates lumped into that same cauldron of minority envy, he appropriates identity externally. Presumably, since he didn't have the wardrobe to become a hipster or the spiritual desire to fall into the Buddhist meditation bin, he waxes Marxist, fancying himself the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky. It's a clever set-up, having this awkward but self-righteous kid organize factory hunger strikes and battle "fascist" high school Principal Berkhoff (Colm Feore) by creating a student union, despite having no real concept of true fascism. Furthermore, the idea that he has to live his life just as Trotsky did, marrying an older woman named Alexandra (Emily Hampshire), regardless of their natural feelings or inclinations, creates a natural comic trajectory and absurdity bound to create contradictions and uncomfortable scenarios. When this unlikely pair interact ― Alexandra repeatedly pointing out that they aren't getting married ― The Trotsky finds the perfect off-centre balance, a tone mirrored when stoned classmates find amusement in his solidarity rants and school dance theme of social justice. Child actor turned adult director Jacob Tierney handles this pink elephant well, giving secondary characters sarcastic throwaway lines and a playful, but mostly caring, disposition towards Leon, as he sets out any one of his politically motivated tirades. Apropos references to Trotsky's life and other political minutia, such as a scene where some French students dress up like characters from Animal Farm, also help maintain a learned, off-centre, playful tone. And while Jay Baruchel and the supporting cast are up to the task of finding the human centre of their comedy caricatures, an irresponsible, idealistic, puerile overall message nearly destroys all of these quirky interactions and irregular dynamics. Pleading that ill-informed youth tear down any institution that seems to "suck," despite having no viable replacement ideologue or historical knowledge to justify it, may seem like a clever way to break quotidian apathy, but instead it just motivates the ignorant to engage and assimilate mindlessly to potentially dangerous and misguided polemics. The director's commentary track included with the DVD touches on this with a sense of glib smugness, as does the "Making of," wherein a facile Tierney talks about wanting to make a movie about youths taking action. The blooper reel included with the DVD is slightly less nauseating, which is a plus. (Alliance)