DVD of the Week – Review of The Trotsky (2009)
by NIR SHALEV
The Trotsky is a Canadian comedy centered on a 17 year old boy name Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel). At the start, Leon organizes a hunger strike at his father’s (Saul Rubinek) warehouse because the employees are not unionized. Also, Leon believes himself to be the reincarnation of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
Leon’s father had read that in Trotsky’s autobiography he was sent to public school as a teenager, so he sends his son to a public school, also. There, he finds the teachers to be fascist, preying upon the little mistakes that students make: like not tucking in their shirts or wearing clean shoes. And when he discovers that the Student Union is simply a small group of students that decide on what theme the school dance will be based on, he starts an actual student union. He organizes a walkout that ultimately fails.
An enemy from the start is the school principal (Colm Feore). Throughout the film, Leon and the principal fight over whether the students suffer from apathy or from boredom. Leon believes in the latter and makes it his life’s (temporary) ambition to prove to the principal that he’s right, and also he attempts to unionize an army involving every student in the school.
Leon also finds the love of his life in a woman who is nine years older than he and is named Alexandra (Emily Hampshire), just like the woman in Trotsky’s life. His attempts to woo her creep her out at first, but seeing that this is also a light romantic comedy she begins to warm up to him because of his strong belief in who he truly believes he is, and because he’s like a lost puppy that believes you to be his master and simply won’t go away.
Baruchel delivers a nice performance. The audience always believes that he believes he’s the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky and that he’s a really nice guy, willing to go to jail for his cause. All the supporting cast deliver nice performances as well, seeing that they perform in the style of comic realism and not in theatrics.
It’s nice to see a film that chooses intellectual storytelling over slapstick comedy, or the traditional, banal rom-com. This is the second Canadian film that I liked this year and that says a lot because it usually takes the Canadian cinema a few years at a time to impress me. Since I am Canadian, the aforementioned says a lot.
The DVD and Blu-ray include commentary with director Jacob Tierney, bloopers, deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette.