Film / The Tracey Fragments

The Tracey Fragments is a 2007 Canadian film directed by Bruce McDonald and starring Ellen Page.

Tracey Berkowitz (Ellen Page) is a 15 year old girl searching for her 9-year-old brother, Sonny, who thinks he's a dog. The movie opens with her riding in the back of the bus, wrapped in a shower curtain, and explains how she got there through a series of anachronic flashbacks.

Notable for being filmed entirely in Mondrian multi-frame compositions, otherwise known as split-screen. The "fragments" of the title are literal as well as figurative.

In a interesting movie promotion tactic, the director made available all the raw footage that they shot for the movie as torrent downloads for fans to re-edit, and the best edits got released on the DVD.

This movie provides examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Tracy is frequently bullied about her breast size, and as a result makes self-deprecating jokes about it.
  • Abusive Parents: Tracey's parents, of the more emotionally abusive variety. However, her father does insist that he loves her, and she denies that she was abused.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Billy Zero is widely sought after by the girls of Tracey's school, including her.
    • Deconstructed with Tracey and Billy Zero. While she is totally infatuated with him, he uses her for sex and abandons her. This results in Tracey losing Sonny.
  • All Men Are Perverts - Tracey seems to hold this opinion:
    "Men buy girls' panties. Myra Bernie told me. Girls in school like me. Unpopular girls, girls with big tits, girls with regular tits, and girls with no tits at all. The men don't even care. Panties just come out of a machine like a chocolate bar. The men take them home and cuddle them like a little kitten."
  • Anachronic Order
  • Angst: Tracy has quite a bit of this.
  • Attempted Rape: When Tracey is at Lance's, a thug comes into his apartment and beats him up. When he tries to rape Tracey, she slashes his face with a bottle and runs away. This is how she got the shower curtain.
  • Break the Cutie: Comes pre-broken.
  • California Doubling - An unusual example - Hamilton and Brantford double for Winnipeg, a city more accustomed to doubling for other cities.
  • Cameo: George Stroumboulopoulos has a short cameo as himself.
  • Country Matters: Tracey calls her psychiatrist a "robot cunt."
  • Crapsack World
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Tracey's home life is extremely dysfunctional.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tracey.
  • Downer Ending: There was a bit of a Hope Spot in both the book and the movie.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Virtually every character in this film is either mentally unstable, addicted to drugs, or borderline sociopathic. The only happy character is that laughing man on the bus, and even he could have something wrong with him.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration
  • Gainax Ending: It is unknown whether Tracey is still searching for her brother, or if she had just lost the will to live.
  • Generation Xerox: In a subtle sense, it seems like both Tracey and her mother are delusional and emotionally unstable.
  • Hallucinations: Tracey has many fantasies, the most prominent of which involves herself and Billy Zero falling in love and becoming famous rock stars. In real life, he barely pays attention to her, until the day they have sex in his car, which is "coincidentally" the same day her brother goes missing.
  • Idealized Sex: Tracey imagines her sexual encounter with Billy Zero like this. In reality it's quick, disappointing and he kicks her out of his car when he's done.
  • Imagine Spot: There are quite a few parts that are these (like the "Tracy Berkowitz Story" bit). However, some are melded into the main story, adding to Tracy's status as an unreliable narrator.
  • Ironic Echo: In their previous collaboration, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos who played Lance gave Page the line "Guys'll do that ya know. They'll act like they can protect ya, but in the end they wind up saving their own asses."
  • Kids Are Cruel: Tracey's classmates, who torment her and call her "it" due to her undeveloped body, implying that she is neither male nor female.
  • Madness Mantra: "Just a normal girl... just a normal girl..."
  • Mind Screw: Not only because of the fact that there are multiple events on screen at the same time, but most of the plot points and motivations of characters are left ambiguous, forcing the audience to make their own interpretation. The anachronic flashbacks make everything even more incomprehensible.
  • Noodle Incident: Tracey's conversations with "Myra Bernie".
  • Raised by Wolves: When Sonny was a baby, he was supposedly found by Tracey's father up north after he shot a wild dog. This would explain why he's always acting like a canine.
  • Sanity Slippage: Even before Tracey loses her brother, she doesn't seem that mentally stable...
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Way, and we're talking way, down the cynical end.
  • Split Screen: The entire movie is this. There are at least two "windows" into Tracey's memories open at any one time, usually many more.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Billy Zero. Tracy would be a female version of this trope.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Tracey's mental state is... not the best.