Written & Directed by Jacob Tierney (2009) Starring: Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Saul Rubinek, Michael Murphy
Leon Bronstein (Baruchel) is a Montreal teenager who believes he’s the reincarnation of Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky. After starting a hunger strike at his father’s factory, he is enrolled in public school where he raises hell in order to establish a Students Union.
I really liked The Trotsky in most areas. Its a fun idea to have a teenager live his life convinced that he was a big figure in history and its spun in a cool way, where Leon lists out the important life moments he has to go through, from marrying an older woman to being assassinated someplace warm. Between the first strike and going to his new school, Leon begs for counsel from famous revolutionary Frank McGovern (Murphy) who just happens to be an adviser to PhD candidate Alexandra (Hampshire). Leon pegs her as his future-wife and she, of course, runs screaming in the opposite direction–for awhile anyway.
To be honest, I was sold with Jay Baruchel in those glasses, wearing those suits. He just seems really iconographic, not just because he’s copping Trotsky’s style, but in a teen-film icon as well as a political-activist style. He’s a bit like those posters of Che Guevera, all smooth lines and little details. You get into his character and its really interesting just to see how he drew the conclusion that he was reincarnated, and how this affected his family. His father just criticizes him because he can’t understand, his older brother is a jerk, his mother worries and dotes, and his younger sister looks up to him. When he can’t take it anymore, he locks himself in his room and searches phone books for the next Lenin.
The Trotsky pulls some of the tried and true teen film cliches, but it manages to make them fresh and fitting. As the new boy in school, Leon is able to win friends surprisingly easily, despite his weirdness, but it helps that he is able to unite them under the desire for a Student Union. There’s also a totally awesome Social Justice-themed School Dance, and I would watch this movie just to see that. The opening shot is so great of the teenagers dressed as Black Panthers, Mao’s Peasants, and Che Guevera-era revolutionaries approaching the high school.
Come the end, all of the little plot threads get tied up neatly and its so amusing and beautiful to the eye that The Trotsky is a joy. Even though I’m not a Communist.