Page compels, but "Fragments" never jells

Fri May 9, 2008 12:01am EDT
 
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By Frank Scheck

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - A failed cinematic experiment notable mainly for its fine starring performance by a pre-"Juno" Ellen Page, "The Tracey Fragments" provides more evidence (not that any was needed) that an extensive use of split-screen visuals is far more irritating than arresting.

This avant-garde tale of a troubled teen girl will attract some attention thanks to its newly famous star, but is destined to leave cold whatever small audiences it manages to attract.

Directed by veteran Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald and featuring a screenplay by Maureen Medved based on her novel, the literally fragmented narrative depicts the travails of Tracey Berkowitz (Page), who spends most of the film wandering around on the back of a city bus, naked except for the shower curtain she's wrapped in. As her voice-over narration explains, she's looking for her younger brother (Zie Souwand), who she thinks she's hypnotized into believing he's a dog.

In the course of a brief but seemingly interminable 77 minutes, we also are given glimpses into her unhappy home life with her dysfunctional parents (Ari Cohen, Erin McMurty), her romantic obsession with a fellow high-schooler (Slim Twig) and her therapy sessions with her cross-dressing shrink (Julian Richings).

McDonald adopts a dizzying split-screen technique for nearly the entirety of the film's running time, presenting a collage of visuals that will make the film a true trial to endure except on the big screen.

Page is compelling in the central role, even if its cliched aspects fail to show her to her best advantage. Ultimately, "Tracey Fragments" will be best known as a minor footnote to an already accomplished career.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter