Monday, July 19, 2010
One Minutes Review: The Tracey Fragments (2 out of 5)
Bruce McDonald's The Tracey Fragments is not a film, it's a digital media experiment. The problem with experiments though is that sometimes they push so hard and so far that all they end up proving is that they are possible. That's kind of the approach on display here. The film doesn't really have a story other than that the main character Tracey (Ellen Page) is a depressed 16-year old from a dysfunctional family who has been disowned after her younger brother, who thinks he is a dog, has disappeared. We don't get to know much about the characters except what Tracey tells us. "I'm no different than any other normal teenage girl who hates herself," or "You heard the story about the retarded couple who had a kid? That was me." McDonald's approach to this material, which would be typical angsty teen indie melodrama otherwise, is to constantly split the screen up into fragments. At any given moment we are subjected to anywhere from 4 to 12 different images parading across the screen at one time. Sometimes they are adjacent to one another and sometimes within one another; sometimes within the same scene from different angles and sometimes showing us something completely different. The technique allows us to understand Tracey on more of a psychological level than on a traditional story level but it seems as though McDonald isn't using this visual technique for any better reason than to show us that he can. Conversations with Other Women is a great underrated film that used a split screen in order to add another layer of depth and intelligence to a story that would have been otherwise typical melodrama but here, despite some scenes of power and heartbreak, McDonald's hand seems to be ultimately closing on thin air.