Jacob Tierney’s hilarious The Trotsky follows Leon Bronstein (the phenomenal Jay Baruchel, in a star-making performance), a precocious Montreal teen who fervently believes himself to be the reincarnation of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. He’s determined to duplicate every aspect of Trotsky’s life, including being exiled, at least twice, and ultimately assassinated. His most pressing issues right now, though, are finding his Lenin and an older wife, preferably named Alexandra.
When Leon tries to unionize his father’s factory after working there for less than twenty-four hours, he’s punished by having funds cut off for the ritzy private school he’s been attending. Forced to enrol in a public high school, Leon finds his revolutionary zeal immediately tested when he meets the crusty, dictatorial Principal Berkhoff (Colm Feore) and his henchwoman, Mrs. Davis (Domini Blythe). Do the students he’s desperately trying to organize genuinely care about their lot in life? Or, as Berkhoff maintains, are they just apathetic?
Possibly the most intriguing creation in recent English Canadian cinema, Leon is two parts Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything and three parts the dogma-spouting volunteers from Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom. Baruchel, whose previous credits include Tropic Thunder and Million Dollar Baby, gives Leon just the right mixture of hysteria and adolescent angst.
Baruchel’s comrades-in-arms include Saul Rubinek as Leon’s put-upon father; AnneMarie Cadieux as his stepmother; Michael Murphy as aging radical Frank McGovern; the legendary Geneviève Bujold as the head of the school board; and the luminous Emily Hampshire as Leon’s intended, Alexandra.
One of the most appealing aspects of the movie is that it is unreservedly Canadian and packed with very specific, slyly funny cultural references, ranging from gags about the French-English divide in Montreal to Ben Mulroney’s ancestry.
The Trotsky is spirited fun yet also asks serious questions about just how committed we are to our ideals. In The Trotsky, laughter is revolutionary. —tiff.net
I even tried to see it as a first approach to people who had never even heard of Trotsky, or something like that, but no... it's almost as if the director was using his character to talk about something he could maybe admire, but the distance he puts between himself and his characters for me is way too much to bare. it sounds like an apology for believing something different from capitalism is possible.
Anyone who is looking for any hint of real politic/intellectual points in this movie will be totally disappointed: it turns any leftist motivation into childish and unreal fight. But if you take it as a teenage comedy (as it should be, of course!) you get to really enjoy it. The protagonist is wonderful and most of the movie is pretty smart.
as a friend of mine said, "it was as good as a teenage comedy could be." it was nice to finally watch a film about teenagers that wasn't overwhelmingly disgusting and inevitably leads to me wretching in the bathroom. i found the film entertaining without being ridiculous, smart without being condescending, and i think, if there was less cursing, anyone could really enjoy this movie.
"[J]ust as there are two Marias, so there have long been two Metropolises," writes Chris Fujiwara in the new issue of Film Comment. "For