Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Tracey Fragments

Port Moody Film Festival has come around again. db and I have our tickets for four films. Last night we saw the Tracey Fragments by Bruce McDonald. It's about Tracey Berkowitz a "normal fifteen year old girl who hates herself." Tracey narrates her own story as she looks for her missing nine year old brother Sonny. Being told in fragments, the story is pieced together so that we eventually get a glimpse into where and how Sonny was lost. The rest of the film is Tracey's view of her world and recent events that are both truths and lies. The more we see, the more we learn about Tracey Berkowitz, but we never get the whole picture, we never get the whole truth. We never really get to know Tracey Berkowitz, but we do get glimpses of her that leaves us with a sense of a fragmented teenage girl.

The visual style of the film reflects how the story is told.
The broken images both imagined and real are like bits of memory as if your life was flashing before your eyes. The fragmentation of the screen suggested experimental cinema and that it was necessary to borrow such techniques in order to tell this story that could not be told in a more "traditional" cinematic style. If you watch the trailer you'll get a sense of what I mean and how the film moves us through Tracey's world as she narrates her life. Once I realized that the whole film was going to continue with the fragmented images that constantly change and move around time and space, I wondered if I would be able to tolerate this for a feature length film. Not only was it tolerable, but it was riveting and seemed essential to tell the story in this way. Like experimental film it was both jarring and engaging. It kept me as close to Tracey's lived experience as much as possible.

This style is like Tracey herself. She flips through events in her life in no linear way and we follow along, trying to figure out what exactly happened and when. In the end it doesn't really matter because there are certain truths that can't be ignored and like Tracey we can't help but return to those truths even if we don't want to see them because they can be hurtful to confront.

I don't think I have ever seen the world of a troubled 15 year old girl better depicted in cinema. I had this feeling of "yeah that's exactly what it's like." Tracey is simply fifteen and looking for her brother Sonny, but there is so much going on inside her that she can't express. She has so much pent up anger that occasionally surfaces. She has so much love that is broken or damaged. Tracey herself is trying to piece it all together while she races through her stories letting us into her world. I highly recommend this film. Not only is it a good story, but it is revealed to us in a unique way.

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