Ellen Page stars as Tracey Berkowitz in this Canadian indie, which was filmed after Juno and was picked up for U.S. distribution only after Page had scored her Oscar nomination. The plot is generic, halfway between My So-Called Life and Girl, Interrupted, with an attempt at the regional self-consciousness of Carson McCullers's The Member of the Wedding. Nearly every shot is subsumed into a busy split-screen grid, an emotionally distancing stunt that I fear is meant to signify Tracey's psychic splintering (see the title).
And Tracey isn't nearly as charming as Juno was. In fact, in anyone else's hands, she'd be unbearable. But Page knows just how to ride the line between irritable and unhinged—and how to dismiss the movie's more baroque gestures. The Tracey Fragments never stops to ask whether Tracey is sane or not. The pleasure is in watching Page stomp all over any answers.
Dubbed "the titless wonder" at school and little loved at home, 15-year-old Tracey spends her days looking after her little brother, Sonny, who behaves continuously like a dog, barking rather than talking. She's struck dumb by the cute new kid at school, Billy Zero (rockabilly musician Slim Twig), who notices and moves quickly to take advantage of her awe. At some point in the film's twisty chronology, Sonny disappears, and Tracey runs away to track him down. She watches out from the window of a bus, wrapped in a white shower curtain, as she crisscrosses Winnipeg.
It's a terrible plot full of ridiculous conceits. But the movie is not as bad as you'd think it would be. So what if Tracey's laughing in one corner of the screen and scowling in the other, or if she seems to see 30 images of the same streetlamp, the way a fly would? Tracey doesn't collapse; she doesn't splinter. She's Ellen Page.