Tribeca Film Festival 2010 Review: Jacob Tierney’s The Trotsky

Leon Bronstein, played by Jay Baruchel is your average high school student. He doesn’t fit in, he doesn’t get along with his teachers and he feels the need to belong. He also thinks that he is the reincarnation of early 20th century, Soviet iconoclast hero, Leon Trotsky. So much that he is determined to recreate every aspect of the late Communist leader. In this way, he’s not your average high school student. “The Trotsky” was the latest film from filmmaker Jacob Tierney.

As the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky, Leon Bronstein starts a revolution in his high school. He doesn’t think the students of Montreal West (yes, the film is Canadian) are being treated fairly by the head master, Principal Berkhoff, played by Colm Feore. Bronstein learns a hard lesson when he realizes, organizing a large group of teenagers is a hard thing to do. An interesting question is asked when the true motivations of high school students are presented, “Boredom? or Apathy?”.

“The Trotsky” is a sloppy film. It goes in too many directions and has no sense of order. I found myself, going along with the film, it was funny and poignant to a point. That point came when the love interest of Leon Bronstein was introduced. According to history, Leon Trotsky fell in love and married a much older woman named Alexandra. Of course, Leon Bronstein does eventually meet an older woman named Alexandra Leith, a law student in University.

The love story elements do not work and I question the motivations of Alexandra played by Emily Hampshire. Her arc is tacked on and unbelieveable and far too much time is spent on their relationship. Emily Hampshire is annoying in this role.

What I did find interesting was the high school storyline. It plays much like the best of Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore” or Jon Poll’s “Charlie Bartlett”. But in spite of this element, I don’t think I can recommend “The Trotsky”. The weaker points just out weighed its strong points. Sloppy and muddled, “The Trotsky” was an exercise in mediocrity.