Leon Bronstein: One minute!
Anne Bronstein: You can finish your little revolution after dinner.
If you met a teenager who genuinely believed that he was the reincarnation of the Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky, what do you think you would do with him? Do you think that you would applaud his obvious delusions and allow him to wander around through life sharing his beliefs with everyone he meets? Or would you simply sit him down and set him straight about how the world really works? And if that didn’t work, you could always have him committed, I suppose. If you’re Montreal writer/director Jacob Tierney though, you would take this guy and throw him up on the big screen for everyone to learn from and you would call it “The Trotsky”.
Montreal actor Jay Baruchel plays young Leon Bronstein, the potentially disturbed character I was just referring to, and Tierney should forever be in his debt for this. Tierney’s script is certainly funny but the subject matter itself has such great potential to be entirely missed by most audiences. It may be a pseudo-intellectual teen comedy but I would wager that a fair amount of adults are not that well-versed in Russian politics, let alone the adolescent demographic “The Trotsky” is partly aimed at. Baruchel sells it hard though and with so much conviction and charisma that you can’t help but want to see just how far he will take his crusade to vanquish fascism at the public school he just started attending. His passion for the part and ability to balance the character’s brilliance and insecurity simultaneously bridges the gap between the audience and their potential lack of knowledge on the prevailing subject at hand.
While watching “The Trotsky”, I never really understood why anyone allowed this kid to get away with half of what he was trying to pull off. I also never grasped why no one made the connection between Leon’s antics and his obvious issues with his father (Saul Rubinek). Granted, if anyone did actually call Leon out on his issues, then we would not have been taken down Tierney’s often hilarious fantasy. And, perhaps more importantly, I would still know absolutely nothing about Leon Trotsky.
Review by Joseph Bélanger