Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Trotsky-Film Review

The Trotsky is a very good film burdened by a very hard sell.

Twenty-nine year old Jay Baruchel plays teen ager; Leon Bronstein, who thinks he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky...Who? You know, the guy that started the Russian revolution, the guy who was assassinated in Mexico with an ice pick. You know; the guy. Only in Canada would the creative team try to be smarter than the audience. Up here in Canada, we look down on commercial success as not really being art. Leave that to the Americans.

Myself, I liked the movie. I like the humour. I liked the intelligence. Well shot and well acted. Though I thought the first bit dragged,, when Bronstein organizes the workers at his father's shop. That part could have been cut out for all the difference it made to the movie. They should have started with him going to school and filled in the back story there. But heck, when the Canadian and Quebec governments give you 4.3 million dollars of tax payers money, why not play? Since they had already got their money up front, like most government-funded Canadian films, they had no incentive to turn a profit. Tax credits must have given them another nice chunk of change, and there you go. Thank you Mister and Missus Tax Payer.

You know a comedy about communism is going to die an ugly death at The American Box Office. It did gross 440,000 dollars. So it needs about another 12 million to break even. It will have to do that in dvd sales, downloading and perhaps Walmart, though of course Walmart takes a dim view of unions.

Alliance Films; headquartered in Montreal, distributed the movie.

Saul Rubinek, Michael Murphy and Colm Feore add a lot of depth to this comedy. Old hands at the acting game, they anchor this 'teen comedy'.

Jacob Tierney directs this movie with assurance and style. His last film about 6 or 7 years ago was called 'Twist' a low budget film about Toronto street youth which was shot for only 300,000 dollars that had a ROI of 30,000 at the Box office.

Jacob had submitted other scripts to Telefilm and received funding, but these screenplays were never developed.

Having first written a version of this particular film ten years ago, the wheels were finally put into motion as Jacob's dad Kevin, who was responsible for 'Bad Cop, Bon Cop', received discretionary funding of 3.5 million dollars from Telefilm to do with what he wanted. He and his son decided to make that Trotsky movie.

In Canada, the goal of most film makers is to actually get a movie made. Once that happens is where it breaks down. Though Canadian distribution companies like Lion's Gate and Alliance Films have been successful players in the business, they seem unable or unwilling to help Canadian movies along. Of course, they have their bottom line to look out for. The government is incapable of running a profit making business. With the government controlling the purse strings of most films in Canada, there should not be an improvement any time soon in box office dollars for Canadian films.

Take out The Trotsky in 'The Trotsky' and you would have a very marketable film. It wouldn't be as loaded with jokes about things most people know nothing about, but it would be marketable. And it would be just as good, and the poor Canadian tax payer might even get a return on his investment.

Rating ***


Jay Baruchel

Michael Murphy

Colm Feore

Saul Rubinek

Genevieve Bujold

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