Even if you aren’t up on your Soviet history, The Trotsky is still hilarious and entertaining. The film centering on the extraordinary life of Leon Trotsky could be described as absolute, kitten-birthing brilliance. It has strong performances, an interesting story and an amazing script. This one’s ripe for cult-status, people!
Writer/director Jacob Tierney is in fine form with this intelligent spin on the traditional high school underdog story. The film follows the life story of Leon Trotsky through his would-be modern reincarnation: an upper-middle class teenager named Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel).
Bronstein, believing it’s his fate to lead a socialist revolution, sets his sights on his high school peers. His aim: to create a proper student union to stop the fascism (as he sees it), in which the school administrators control the students. Much to Leon’s chagrin, his biggest obstacle seems to be teenage apathy.
Important to note: this film is not meant to give a glowing recommendation of Leon Trotsky or inspire teens to start growing Karl Marx beards, so don’t think you’re going to walk out with a new desire to read Mao’s Little Red Book and tattoo a hammer and sickle onto your neck. One might see the “serious” message as a simple call to action for average people to question certain acceptable practices in society that just don’t seem morally sound.
With that said, this film has a sense of humor about itself that pushes away from that kind of basic, moral interpretation. It’s having too much fun (and so is the audience) mixing images of a social revolution with “Beverly Hills 90210” to be overly concerned with preaching any kind of doctrine.
Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) plays Leon with the perfect balance of seriousness and comic subtlety. With so much belligerent conviction pent up in a seventeen-year-old character, you might expect him to be a little unsympathetic or even creepy. But Baruchel somehow makes his awkward devotion charming and endearing. This film made me laugh more than anything else I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.