Alright—I just have to say it… THIS is why I watch movies that no one has ever heard of before. Nine times out of ten, they turn out to be a real sleeper—I mean, seriously, with most of them, there is a REASON no one has ever heard of it. But then, every once in a while…. Every once in a very great long while, I find an absolute gem. That was the case last night, when I decided to watch The Trotsky.
The Trotsky is a movie from 2009, starring Jay Baruchel and directed by Jacob Tierney. The plot focuses on a 17 year old high school student, Leon Bronstein, who believes that he is the reincarnation of the Russian Communist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky.
As Leon enters a new high school, he attempts to unionize the students in the school. In terms of the plot to the movie, that’s about all I can tell you without spoiling anything.
Before I go any further, let me say—yes, this movie is dripping with pro-communist, pro-union sympathies. But, if you can ignore that, it’s a very entertaining movie. It’s funny and it’s sincere at the same time. They don’t TRY to get laughs… the humor is organic, natural. Is it “laugh-a-minute” funny? No, but it IS funny.
I found it to be a very well made movie. The direction, the cinematography—all that good stuff—was very good. Jacob Tierney is very young for a director, only 31, and I can only hope that he continues making films of this caliber. I also happened to notice that he wrote the screenplay—again, I can only hope that this isn’t just a one-time fluke, and we see more quality work from him in the future.
Let me also say a word about the featured actor, Jay Baruchel. His performance is so odd and quirky, as an audience member, I really came to admire the character. In a way, it reminded me of John Heder’s performance as Napoleon Dynamite. In fact, the entire movie had a bit of a Napoleon Dynamite feel—only—it was like Napoleon Dynamite… if it had been written by Communists.
This one almost falls into the category of an “anti-hero” movie, in the same way that Ed Wood is. In Ed Wood, by the time we as the viewer come to the end of the movie, we are rooting for Ed to make a BAD movie—because that is what he set out to do. The same is true with this film. At the beginning, the viewer feels sympathy for this poor, delusional kid who thinks he’s Leon Trotsky, but by the end, you truly want Leon to live out his life as Trotsky.
Is it a perfect movie? Definitely not. At times, the story seems rushed. If the pace had been a little slower, the characters could have been developed a little more. In a way, it almost seems like they skip parts of the story and say “okay, you know how these characters get closer to each other, we’re going to skip all that and move on to the next part of the plot.”
The sad thing is, I think they could have accomplished this by adding no more than five minutes to the running time. But really, I think this might be one of the few flaws in the movie, and it certainly succeeds in spite of that.
I can honestly say this is one of the smarter movies I’ve seen in a long time. If you’re looking for a drunken frat boy movie, look elsewhere (in fact, if that’s what you’re looking for, go read my review for Sex Drive). But, if you’re looking for a movie that will make you think a little, and be a bit inspiring as well, definitely give this one a try.