A fierce, stark, implosive crawl through the adolescent pscyhe of a tortured 16 year old, inimical to her sorroundings and wrung to desolation by her temerity. Maureen Medved's eerie expose' of a rape victim's fragile self-desecrating self is redrawn by the Canadian author herself, with the complicitous and postmodern applications of director Bruce McDonald. The plot does not cover much ground, but that which it does range over it digs deep within. The warped sense of intimacy that we see Ellen Page's leading character tarry within is portrayed with such a vivid, terrific and terrifying virulence that we see before our very eyes the perils that it promises. The loneliness and alienation is confided to us by the mere strains of personality that Tracey Berkowitz betrays in her gall, a reactive toughnes within which tracey fenced herself while coiling about her the trimmings of a barbed wire.
The movie disorients and bounces, tatters and titters, fidgets in a continuous flourish of images that synchronically and diachronically impose themselves on the screen in adjecent, fading and overlapping fragments. The pattern of the narrative is sporadic and laden with the logic of a psyche that cannot make sense of what it is suffering, as much as it caves within this same pain for fear that anger and madness have the best of her. How stirring to watch the most talented young artist working today engaged in a production of such an entrancing livid urgency. Ellen Page shows us here why she may very well be the best ever. Yes I said it, she is that good. Incredibly so; and if she was showered with awards and applause for Juno, here she deserve nothing short of awe.
The movie differs in elemental ways from the novel it adopts its script from. The blizzard, the rape scene and the ridicule Tracey is subject to at school is dealt with in a very different reality. It actually adds a dimension to the narrative. Musings and dreamy aspirations are thwarted and tentaizingly strewn about the screen to echo the thoughts of a girl who is gearing to meet her fate as if by choice. Her parents are more sympathetic but insensitive and disruptive, if not altogether psychologically and emotionally violent all the same. The performences of Ari Cohen and Julian Richings are compelling, animated and free of the predicament of being cast in roles of such a perforating indiffference. Thinkfilms takes a risk in this production, for the topic of adolescent rape is somewhat of a taboo, especially if depicted in such realist and matter-of fact terms. The psychology is drawn about with bursts of anger and surreal sessions with a stone-faced therapist that in a void of whiteness delivers an insatiable array of innuendos, particles of a methodology that arrests its purpose as it seems incapable of offering a dialogue to a tormented mind. The soliloquies and voice-overs of the leading character are effective and demonstrative, often slurring through the scenes and designating a tentative memory double guessing itself. The frustration of being tit-less, an "it" according to her classmates, is a wound inflicted on Tracey too debilitating for even her feigned callousness. She carries herself as if burping lava sliming along announcing the eruption that never happens full force. A throttle that will release tension in a rape scene where she fantasizes she is making love with her boyfriend. She will at a later time while addressing us, on a bus running from reality, even claim that her rapist was actually her lover, several frames before we come to fully realize the truth of things. She insists that he "put his c*** in me and then said I love you, exactly in that order." How painful to recall that phrase. She is fearless indeed, but the tenderness is so pervasive we want to reach out to her and embrace her with a tight hold that may provoke her to at least surmise as possible that someone cares about her. The fragments of the story are shuffled with the overriding narrative of Tracey's brother Sonny's absence. She tells us she has not so much as run away as gone to retrieve her brother. This may function as an allegorical device if we run that route. Sonny disappears in conjunction with the rape scene, which I must add is innocent in its graphic covertness, but more powerful because of it. Do not have a minor watch this movie! It is too much even for mature audiences. But if art is a means to insights this movie succeeds admirably. It is a viewing that will haunt you more than any horror flick could ever wish to.The emotional starkness inscribes a feel of verisimilitude that is quite unique. The language is rouch and vulgar, but necessarily so. The psyche of a tortured, violated, thwarted and crushed adolescent girl is rendered in shattered pieces the spectator will be left picking through in an attempt to satisfy the fragility we are left with upon finishing the movie.
It is one of the most exceptional movies ever made, one that deploys postmodern language in a way that is not pretentious or ineffectual. It hits the spot, problem is that it leaves a deep wound where it hits.