The Trotsky Poster
Credit: Alliance Films

Whenever I watch independent movies, I always worry about how cliche they will be, or if the plot will round itself out the way I want it to, and I even worry about whether or not the actors will be able to really reach into their characters the way that I have come to appreciate and expect in films that I love. My boyfriend and I (who watch way too many movies and far too much TV) will sometimes joke about how indie movies are “hit or miss” because generally speaking, we either end up loving them or hating them. But indie flicks are always from somewhere raw. They’re movies that are made out of love as opposed to being made out of potential for box office bang (not to be hatin’ on Iron Man 2 or anything, I loved it!). These are the movies that are slathered with love in all the nooks and crannies, and The Trotsky is no exception.

The Trotsky stars up-and-comer Jay Baruchel and besides being an official selection of the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival it also has the HWHills Stamp of Approval. Both are a huge honor, obviously. Just like any other movie experience, I tried to go into this one with an open mind. Baruchel has amused me before in Knocked Up and even in She’s Out of My League but he hasn’t had enough chances to play the leading man, in my opinion. The Trotsky not only gave him the opportunity to play a leading man, but also an interesting and developed character, in Leon Bronstein, a 17 (and three quarters) year old kid who believes he is the reincarnation of Russian revolutionist and Marxist theorist, Leon Trotsky.

We meet Leon while he is hosting a hunger strike at his dad’s factory after working there for all of five minutes. Once banished to public school, Leon is thrown into the trenches of what it’s like to be a normal teenager, when he is anything but ‘normal.’ He’s bent to find out that the Student Union is run by a few misfits who lack heart and determination and he immediately steps into his God-given role of leader. Following the time line of Leon Trotsky‘s life, Leon Bronstein sets out to improve the Student Union and give the student body a voice. He reminded me a lot of how I am – he doesn’t have a problem questioning authority and he sort of rallied the troops so that they could feel as if they were being treated fairly by the administration.

The Trotsky
Credit: Alliance Films

Of course, then he takes it too far. Trying to recreate Leon Trotsky‘s life isn’t an easy task, and happens to include exile and jail, just to name a few of the highlights. Leon Bernstein (Burchael) gets himself involved in shenanigans including but not limited to: animal masquerading, kidnapping, strike organizing and just general debauchery. And all the while, he has time to fall in love. Because what would a movie like this be without a love story? Enter Alexandra Leith, played by Emily Hampshire, who is 27, and the gal Bernstein sets his sights on. It was easy to be skeptical of Alexandra‘s attention to Leon, considering their age difference, but of course it is revealed that Trotsky‘s first wife was – you guessed it! – nine years older than he was. Alexandra can’t help but be a little charmed by Leon, and neither could I.

This was absolutely the best role I have ever seen Jay Baruchel take on. It was perfect for him, and really gave us an opportunity to see him step completely into the role of comedic leading man. I didn’t even mind that he looked a lot older than the age he was supposed to be playing – he was so good at acting like a bumbling nerd that he was convincing as an awkward teen. By the end of this movie, I had that warm feeling in my gut, the kind you have after a good meal? It was the same feeling I had after I saw movies like Juno or The Baxter. I can’t urge you enough to take the time to watch this movie, which is currently available via Tribeca On Demand where you can watch 13 of the festivals films from your own living room.

PREVIOUSLY: New Jay Baruchel Movie – ‘The Trotsky’

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