The Tracey Fragments

Movie review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
The Tracey Fragments Movie Poster Image
Teen runaway's harrowing journey isn't for kids.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 77 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Tracey is bullied at school, where other kids call her "It," and comment often on the size of her breasts. Her home life is dysfunctional, with a violent father and an emotionally absent mother. Tracey steals money from her mother's purse and runs away in search of her missing younger brother, ending up in a world of cheap bars, pimps, prostitutes, thugs, and assorted other low-lifes, where the vulnerable 15-year-old girl is likely to be victimized.

Violence

A few scenes of intense violence that could be disturbing to kids. A thug beats another man senseless and then tries to rape the teenage Tracey; nearly naked, she fights back with the jagged edge of an open can, leaving the man bleeding profusely as she flees in her underwear. Tracey trashes a phone booth after an unpleasant call. Her father, in a moment of anger, takes off his belt in a practiced manner, making it obvious that he regularly uses it to discipline his children.

Sex

In a pivotal scene, Tracey has sex in a car with a boy who is clearly using her. It's not romantic and there's no nudity. There is also a harrowing near-rape, and a seedy bar scene featuring an aging, nearly nude stripper.

Language

Extremely coarse. "F--k" is used throughout the film, as are a choice variety of other epithets, including "p---y," "s--t," "c--t," and plenty of other words and gestures.

Consumerism

Some scenes show store signs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters smoke, including teens and Tracey's mom, who smokes constantly. A few scenes take place in bars, where there is plenty of drinking,

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this disturbing film follows a teenager who runs away from bullying classmates, a dysfunctional homelife, and a tragic accident. The 15-year-old Tracey ends up in the seedy underworld of a big city, populated by pimps, prostitutes, and thugs, who see her as an easy mark. The film opens with Tracey nearly naked, wrapped in a shower curtain in the back of a bus, and a series of flashbacks gradually reveals how she arrived in this difficult situation. The film uses a split-screen technique throughout, presenting multiple perspectives of each scene simultaneously. It's an interesting gimmick, but can be distracting. There are several moments of intense violence, including an attempted rape, mature sexual themes, drinking, smoking, and plenty of cursing. Young fans of Ellen Page expecting a fun follow-up to her hit film Juno should look elsewhere.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byzerealevilcelery May 16, 2009
I would say no age for this one but rather a maturity level. Some aspects of the plot will be lost of people. I had to watch it twice to truly understand what h... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, Tracey Berkowitz (Ellen Page) is alone at the back of a bus, wrapped only in a shower curtain, raving about her boyfriend and her missing brother Sonny. Something is clearly off-kilter here, and she refuses to explain her unsettling situation. But in a disjointed series of flashbacks, we see a 15-year-old girl who is bullied at school, neglected at home, and may have been involved in a tragic accident. She gradually reveals that she has run away to the city to find Sonny, ending up in a world of seedy bars and all-night diners, where the vulnerable teen is an easy mark for pimps, thugs, and small-time hoods.

Is it any good?

The Tracey Fragments can be tough to watch for two reasons. First, it uses a split-screen format, showing multiple perspectives of every scene. It's an interesting gimmick, but can also be distracting, forcing the viewer to focus on two or more images when the mesmerizing Page demands complete attention as a disturbed teen who is coming apart.

Second, Tracey is a girl with no refuge -- not at school, where she is bullied and belittled, nor at home where her violent father and emotionally absent mother create an environment of rules and discipline, but little love. Tracey is unraveling, slowly at first, but after a series of horrific encounters it becomes clear that her hold on reality is tenuous, and slipping. It's fantastic performance, but painful at times to see, and Page is not matched by either the supporting cast, or the profanity-laden script, which substitutes expletives for nuance. And though Tracey's breakdown is compelling, there is little else to see; scenes with her psychiatrist, for example, which could have been fascinating, devolve into screaming and swearing. When we finally learn what has pushed her over the edge, it feels like just one more terrible event in the sad life of a young girl who doesn't deserve so much woe.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Tracey's decision to run away. What is she looking for, and what is she running from? Do you think Tracey's descriptions of some of the events in her life are accurate; is she a reliable narrator? Why do you think she might embellish or falsify some of her stories? Do you think a real teen runaway might encounter similar situations? Are young runaways portrayed differently in other movies and TV shows?

Movie details

For kids who love offbeat media

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate