Maybe I’m just desperately continuing a theme here after last weekend, but I found something similar in The Tracey Fragments to the whole Alice thing. I only really began to realise another side to “Alice in Wonderland” last week when somebody was talking about how old the Disney movie is now and how wild it must’ve seemed at the time of its release considering even now, in the wacky world in which we live, it’s still pretty wacky. I said, it’s true, in a world where we never quite know what’s going to explode next, where we never quite seem to be able to do the right thing, we kind of live in Wonderland now, and our response to Carroll’s creation is sort of doomed to be jaded – you can pause for a moment with all the technology, information and possibility around you and almost go mad; so it’s better to be, well, a little numb to it.
For teenagers, of course, it’s always been this way. So many options. Right and wrong. Good or bad. Cool or not. Even their bodies are betraying them inside and out. One could argue that the fragmented images on the screen here are like a broken looking-glass, the cinema screen often called a mirror to the audience; that the varying sizes of images on the screen are like Alice’s changes in size. Tracey has parents, teachers, school peers and even a psychotherapist – people who are meant to help her cope in this wonderland, yet like all Alice’s acquaintances, none of them do squat for her. In the end, it’s she who has to find out herself, how “No one can stop me,” she says at the end; “No one can make me stand still.” She kinda becomes a superhero in that moment – it reminded me of the, “Why aren’t my hands shaking?” scene in The Brave One.
Like Sofia Coppola’s films outside of The Virgin Suicides, it’s probably a film whose success in portraying the very adolescent nature of adolescence is actually its biggest problem. The fragmented screen gimmick seems like just that at first but in the end it’s used cleverly enough to make it not just a gimmick – at times it captures stuff the way I always believe cinema should capture stuff better than any other format could … it’s the ultimate extension of what’s grown from split-screen to Mike Figgis’ Timecode to TV’s 24 etc, etc. But ultimately its success is in portraying the adolescent state of mind … and I just don’t know how fun a thing that is to spend even the movie’s admirable 80-minute runtime with. I discovered while reading about the movie online that all the shot footage for the movie was actually released via BitTorrent last year for people to make their own creations with it. It might be quite the amazing DVD when it emerges. So many possibilities. Like another review I read recently said, maybe someone will crack the code and make this as good a movie as it deserves to be.