The Tracey Fragments (2007)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 25, 2009  | 
DVD
Siren Visual (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English DD 2.0. 77 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Bruce McDonald
Starring: Ellen Page, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Ari Cohen
Screenplay: Maureen Medved
Country: Canada
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
The words 'experimental film' send shivers down my spine. As far as I am concerned, I watch movies for one reason: to be entertained. If I want to see how clever a director is, I would rather watch him on a quiz show than have to sit through ninety minutes of experimental, nonsensical visual vomit that is supposed to represent something.
 
However...
 
Director Bruce McDonald (Pontypool) came up with an interesting way of filming this script of The Tracey Fragments by Maureen Medved, who also wrote the novel of which it is based.... nothing like some creative control! The story involves the broken life of a teen, and McDonald has given us a film that presents her life as a series of smaller panels that make up the full picture, or in some cases break the picture apart into what's actually happening, and what the characters are feeling, or how it might reflect a past or future event.
 
The film has us meet Tracey Berkowitz (Ellen Page), sitting on a bus, wrapped in a shower curtain trying to recollect the messed up pieces of her life. She knows her life sucks, the other kids at school teased her for being, shall we say, underdeveloped in the booby department, she has an alcoholic father (Ari Cohen) and a disaffected mother (Erin McMurtry). She also knows that she is responsible for something bad happening.
 
That something bad is the disappearance of her brother. Apparently she hypnotised her brother, Sonny (Zie Souwand) into thinking he was a dog, and he subsequently ran away... There's much more to the story of course, but that would be giving too much away.
 
This film was actually filmed in a relatively short amount of time, but took months of editing, and if you see the film you will understand that completely. The film isn't only present in quadrilateral panels, but in many different shaped pieces.... I hesitate to say 'Fragments' too often... depending on the state of her mind - the more mental pressure she is under the more pieces are present on the screen. Conversely, the less fragments, the better her state of mind.
 
Will the picture ever be whole? Time will tell...
 
Ellen Page is suited to this role perfectly, and she carries the performance well. She basically is doing the entire movie from her point of view, talking direct to camera quite often. Her character is rarely proactive, but more reactive to the situations she is presented with. I must admit though, that while I appreciated her performance in this film, I am starting to believe that as an actress these are the only roles she can play, and that her range may not be too broad.
 
I found the standout piece of casting though was to be that of Juno's.... I mean Tracey's psychiatrist, Dr Heker. Julian Richings, seen in such horror films as Wrong Turn and Urban Legend, is cast in this role. Why is it unusual? Well Dr Heker is clearly a woman, and Richings has an extraordinarily odd look for a man to be cast as a woman. I assume that McDonald cast this to make Tracey's mistrust toward the psychiatry even more visual, and slightly easier to convey.
 
I tried to get into this film but was overwhelmed by the fact that it wasn't aimed at a man of my years. This film is clearly geared toward teens, as it really discusses the teen condition, and how they perceive the world to be treating them, whether it is true or not: perception is more important than reality, because all reality is perception... any psychologist will tell you that!!
Video
The picture is of a high quality, though with the way the film is presented, fragmented and with many different filters layered over it, that can sometimes be hard to tell. It's presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16:9 enhanced.
Audio
The audio is as layered as the picture, its many facets layered over each other, and the score is a good one as well. It is presented here in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1.
Extra Features
This disc has a few decent extras. A trailer for the film starts us off, and we go from there.
 
There is a decent Behind the Scenes piece, with interviews with director Bruce McDonald, Producer Sarah Timmins and actress Ellen Page where all of them discuss not just the usual making of topics, but the experimental aspect of the film itself.
 
The next few extras are where the they really become interesting. When this film had first finished its principal photography, and before the grueling editing process had started, every single piece of footage was made available to download from The Tracey Fragments website (www.thetraceyfragments.com) and a competition took place that had entrants use the footage to make a trailer, or a music video, or even an entire film. The winner of that competition has had their entry put here as an extra, along with the shortlist of others whose entries came highly recommended.
 
Also, as a bonus, this disc comes with a comic adventure of Tracey Berkowitz, written and drawn by Andy B. which before watching the film seems to have little or no relevence, but after watching the film, is another fragment falling into place.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
No doubt this is a cleverly constructed film, but I must admit I found the editing far more engaging than the story itself. This is definitely NOT for the horror fan, but could certainly be appreciated by either those with an interest in filmmaking or girls in their mid-teens who feel that their parents don't appreciate them, that school is too hard and that every pressure in the world is on top of them.

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