SIFF MOVIE: The Trotsky (2009)

This crazy-brilliant comedy had such a bizarre concept, I almost didn’t go see it.  What ended up convincing me it might be worth a gander was a review of the film after its run at the Tribeca Film Festival that said it was one of the best high school comedies since the days of John Hughes.  Okay.  Okay, maybe.  Okay, let’s give this one a shot.  WE’LL JUST SEE ABOUT THAT, MADAM.

The premise is pretty bananas:  It’s about a 17 year-old boy, Leon (Jay Baruchel), who is completely convinced he’s the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.  And you know what?  I think I’m going to leave you with that as a summary.  I tried several times to figure out a way to describe the plot of this hilarious movie, but everything I came up with made it sound completely ridiculous (well, see, he tries to unionize his high school, and there’s this theme of boredom vs. apathy, and that scary guy from Storm of the Century is the principal, and there’s a clever homage to Battleship Potemkin, and Leon is just, like, completely adorable and so, so utterly sweet, especially when he meets his first wife, and, er, um, so. . . well, hell, see what I mean?).

The thing is, it IS totally ridiculous.  But it’s also smart as hell, absolutely charming from start to finish, and very thoughtfully filmed (I was mesmerized by the camera work, for example, which often featured close-ups of Leon’s face while he spoke, framed at awkward angles, all a little atilt — kind of like Leon himself).

The guy sitting behind me in the packed movie theater last night had the greatest laugh I have ever heard; lucky for me, this film gave him ample opportunity to use it.  The entire audience was roaring through the whole picture, myself included, and the energy that emitted was divinely restorative.  So far, of the three Seattle International Film Festival flicks I’ve seen, this is by far my favorite (sorry Tucker & Dale!).  Sharp, funny, clever, unique, CANADIAN!  And any doubts I might’ve had about Jay Baruchel’s ability to carry an entire film by himself vanished the moment Leon banned the student dressed like Ayn Rand from the “Social Justice” school dance.

I think I’m in love.

If you live in Seattle, you’ve still got two chances to catch this one at SIFF — May 29 at 11am at the Neptune, and May 31 at 5:30 in Everett.  For the rest of you, you can stream it on for $5.99 (for those with Roku players, that means you can stream it to your TV set).  It’ll be, guaranteed, among the best six dollars you’ve ever spent.  Highly, HIGHLY recommended!  See this movie!

[Prequeue at Netflix | Buy tickets for SIFF & View trailer | Stream on]

Genre: Comedy
Cast:  Jay Baruchel, Saul Rubinek, Colm Feore, Emily Hampshire, Genevieve Bujold, Jessica Pare

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