'The Tracey Fragments'


A failed cinematic experiment mainly notable 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 will garner attention thanks to its star but is destined to leave cold whatever small audiences it manages to attract.

Directed by Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald and featuring a screenplay by Maureen Medved based on her own 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), whom 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 McMurtry), 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, presenting a collage-like montage of visuals that will make the film a 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" will be known as a minor footnote to an already accomplished career. (partialdiff)