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Film / The Tracey Fragments

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The Tracey Fragments is a 2007 Canadian film directed by Bruce Mc Donald and starring Elliot Page.

Tracey Berkowitz (Elliot Page) is a 15-year-old girl searching for her 9-year-old brother, Sonny, who she hypnotized into permanently acting like a dog. The movie opens with her riding in the back of the bus, clothed only by wrapping herself 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 in ways like unfairly blaming her for problems. However, her father does insist that he loves her, and Tracey outright assures the audience that her life is not "an abuse story".
    "I should've run away, like, forty gadrillion years ago...but I wasn't 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."
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  • Anachronic Order: The film jumps back and forth between the past and present quite frequently and without warning.
  • Angst: Tracy has quite a bit of this.
  • Attempted Rape: When Tracey is at Lance's, a thug that Lance has not yet paid comes into his apartment and beats him up while Tracey hides behind a curtain. She is eventually found, and the thug forces her to take off her shirt and pants with clear intents of getting further. However she slashes his face with a can of beans and escapes. This is how she got the shower curtain.
  • Break the Cutie: Comes pre-broken.
  • Broken Bird: Tracey.
  • 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, and one that she describes merely as "a hole".
  • 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.
  • Fan Disservice: "Elliot Page almost fully naked" might turn a few heads. "Elliot Page almost fully naked as a result of being unwillingly stripped and almost raped" as well as the fact that Elliot's character is 15 is likely to turn them right back.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration
  • Freak Out: After Tracey runs away, she winds up in a payphone calling her mother. She picks up, but as Tracey tries talking to her, she doesn't respond and eventually hangs up, leading to Tracey having an emotional breakdown, repeatedly slamming the phone against the wall.
  • 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, uncomfortable, 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 "Tracey 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."
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: See Kids Are Cruel below.
  • 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".
  • The Oner: The film's final shot, used in the ending of the movie and throughout the credits, is a single-take shot of Tracey walking into the forest.
  • Painting the Medium: The film's unique Mondrian visual style is meant to represent Tracey's mind in a more tangible manner.
  • 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: A scene near the end seems to strongly imply that Sonny drowned in a nearby lake while Tracey was hooking up with Billy, rendering her whole journey to find him completely pointless.
  • 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.
  • Survival Mantra: Tracey ends the film with a repeated statement of resilience.
  • Tragic Dream: The fantasy sequence Tracey has where she stumbles across a store magazine with herself on the cover and imagines herself as an incredibly famous rock star. Given her circumstances, it's made pretty apparent that this is purely a pipedream.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Billy Zero. Tracey would be a female version of this trope.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Tracey fits this to a T, what with her mental state. There are multiple instances where her recounting of certain events turn out to be sensationalized far cries from what actually happened. At one point, she even directly lampshades it.
    "My dad, he's...he's always saying that I exaggerate, you know. He's always like, 'Tracey, I don't know what to believe and what not to believe.' But how do you know what's real and what's not when the whole world is inside your head?"


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