Bruce McDonald’s fragmented style is a unique approach to capturing the complicated internal workings of the teenage mind.

Fifteen-year-old Tracey Berkowitz (Ellen Page) is an outcast in her school and in her home; her peers taunt and bully her while her parents are usually too busy with their own problems to notice her. Her only ally is her younger brother Sonny, who believes he is a dog. In her attempts to escape the despair, she blurs the line between fantasy and reality. When a new boy starts at the school, Tracey feels her prayers have been answered. Billy Zero (Slim Twig) becomes her boyfriend and rock ‘n’ roll saviour. Of course, she is relaying the story wearing nothing but a flowered shower curtain on the back of a public bus.

McDonald fills the screen with numerous frames, employing an experimental style of editing. Although this may sound distracting or disorienting, it is not. Typically, the multiple frames display the same action from different angles or repeats actions the viewer has already witnessed. Therefore, it adds to the experience of the film rather than detract from it.

The story is told non-chronologically, intertwining Tracey’s adolescent fantasies while revealing hidden truths in her narrative. The decision to be non-linear also communicates the confusion Tracey is experiencing.

Even though the style is a dominant element of the film, it cannot over shadow Page’s performance. She portrays Tracey as strong but unsure, lapsing into girlish doting or dramatic concern effortlessly. Page’s range and ability to become the character is once again showcased here. She is also reunited with her co-star, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, from Mouth to Mouth, another Canadian production. He has an eccentric look with large eyes and messy blonde hair; appearing simultaneously threatening and harmless, he leaves audiences to question his motivations. Finally, Slim Twig was an appropriate choice for Tracey’s love interest; he conveys a “bad boy” persona that draws lost girls seeking escape from the mundane or miserable.

Using music solely from the indie collective Broken Social Scene, McDonald produces a film that creatively utilizes editing and acting to tell an otherwise straightforward, tragic comedy. If Tracey is missing something, it is not quality.

The Tracey Fragments is based on the book of the same name by Maureen Medved.

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