Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8 film, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more - culled from nineteen years of his life.


Jonathan Caouette
9 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Renee Leblanc Renee Leblanc ... Self
Jonathan Caouette ... Self
Adolph Davis Adolph Davis ... Self
Rosemary Davis Rosemary Davis ... Self
David Sanin Paz David Sanin Paz ... Self
Joshua Williams Joshua Williams ... Self
Michael Cox Michael Cox ... Guy cussing in short film
David Leblanc David Leblanc ... Self
Stacey Mowery Stacey Mowery ... Self
Michael Mouton Michael Mouton ... Self
Greg Ayres ... Self (as Bam-Bam)
Vanda Stovall Vanda Stovall ... Self
Dagon James Dagon James ... Self
Vivian Kalinov Vivian Kalinov ... Self (as Girl in Student Film)
Steve Caouette Steve Caouette ... Self


Part documentary, part narrative fiction, part home movie, and part acid trip. A psychedelic whirlwind of snapshots, Super-8 home movies, old answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, snippets of '80s pop culture, and dramatic reenactments to create an epic portrait of an American family travesty. The story begins in 2003 when Jonathan learns that his schizophrenic mother, Renee, has overdosed on her lithium medication. He is catapulted back into his real and horrifying family legacy of rape, abandonment, promiscuity, drug addiction, child abuse, and psychosis. As he grows up on camera, he finds the escapist balm of musical theater and B horror flicks and reconnects to life through a queer chosen family. Then a look into the future shows Jonathan as he confronts the symbiotic and almost unbearable love he shares with his beautiful and tragically damaged mother. Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Your greatest creation is the life you lead


Unrated | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


Was edited with Apple Computer's "iMovie" - a free DV editing program for Macintosh computers. See more »


[first lines]
Renee Leblanc: [singing] This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
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Features The Bugaloos (1970) See more »


It's All Over Now Baby Blue
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by The Chocolate Watchband
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User Reviews

Stop the world, I want to get off!!
17 November 2004 | by ppetraitisSee all my reviews

Why do I feel as though I've watched a young man masturbate in front of me for two hours while in a conference room filled with clergy or nuns? Andy Warhol free form new wave movies come to mind? Woody Allen on speed? This poor boy should be in individual and group therapy for the rest of his life.

I'm glad he made 'art' out of trailer trash surrounds but I guess I'm not feeling any pathos or empathy--just an urge to turn down the volume and/or walk away. It is the same sensation one gets while watching an accident or encountering a street person who didn't take his meds today--but for the grace of God,etc. Such experiences convince me of a godless universe and at the most a hope that some Buddhists are on the beam. My parents were both substance abusers (cocktail swigglers/50s style)and I left this film feeling my life had been slightly left of the Donna Reed Show. I know now why I fled NYC at the age of 32--too many actor friends and wanna bees who were cycling together in their own imaginary worlds. I remember feeling the need for a real dose of average behavior at the time. (Now that Bush got in again, I'm not sure that is a good thing either) Well, good for this young man and his ego that he got noticed. He makes Edith Bouvier Beale look bland ("This is the only costume for the day, I think." "What I need is a manager, but he's got to be a Libran!") except she was much more interesting thanks to the Maysles. Aaah, well, I'm getting old, I guess. I do wish I had that seven dollars and fifty cents for the matinée show refunded, though.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

10 November 2004 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Tarnation See more »


Box Office


$220 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,740, 10 October 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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