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The Trotsky
September 20, 2010
Rated PG

Director: Jacob Tierney Cast: Jay Baruchel, Colm Feore, Emily Hampshire Run Time: 120 minutes Country: Canada Year: 2009
Language: English 

Jacob Tierney's hilarious The Trotsky follows Leon Bronstein (the upcoming Jay Baruchel, Good Neighbours), a precocious teen who fervently believes himself to be the reincarnation of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Leon's obsession with his namesake (Bronstein was Trotsky's birth name) extends far beyond wearing the revolutionary's trademark wire-rimmed spectacles and ill-fitting suits. He's determined to duplicate every aspect of Trotsky's life, including being exiled, at least twice, and ultimately assassinated. His most pressing issues right now, though, are finding his Lenin and an older wife, preferably named Alexandra.

When Leon tries to unionize his father's Montreal factory after working there for less than twenty-four hours, his father punishes him by refusing to pay for the private school he's been attending, and enrolling him in a public school. Leon's revolutionary zeal is immediately tested when he meets the dictatorial Principal Berkhoff (Colm Feore, Bon Cop, Bad Cop), but the question isn't so much whether Leon will succeed in getting a student bill of rights, but whether the students he's organizing genuinely care about their lot in life.

Possibly the most intriguing and potentially legendary character in recent English Canadian cinema, Leon is unforgettably compelling. Baruchel gives Leon just the right mixture of hysteria and plaintive adolescent angst. His exemplary comrades-in-arms include Saul Rubinek (The Singing Detective), Michael Murphy (Away from Her), the legendary Geneviève Bujold (Entre la mer et l'eau douce) and the luminous Emily Hampshire (Snow Cake).

The Trotsky is unreservedly Canadian and packed with cultural references, ranging from gags about the French-English divide to Ben Mulroney's ancestry. In The Trotsky, laughter itself is revolutionary, and the film inspires laughter in no short supply.

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