Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother -- a mixture of snapshots, Super-8, answering machine messages, video diaries, early short films, and more -- culled from 19 years of his life.
When Oscar is fired, and her boyfriend walks out (taking the cat), she heads to a remote cabin in the woods outside a ghost town called TARNATION. Here she plans to reflect on her life ... See full summary »
Documentary on the Friedmans, a seemingly typical, upper-middle-class Jewish family whose world is instantly transformed when the father and his youngest son are arrested and charged with shocking and horrible crimes.
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
An embarrassingly narcissistic journey through a shallow landscape.
It amazes me that so many people seem to equate emotional instability with depth. They are not the same thing...as this vain movie so vividly proves. Not unlike Jonathan, I was a gay kid growing up in the south with a profoundly disturbed mom who had several electroshock therapy treatments while I was in my early teens. It was a frightening time. Over the years, though, I've learned that by shifting my focus outward, away from myself, soulful living can and does happen. By contrast, Tarnation strikes me as a celebration of arrested development. Jonathan knew he was different early on. He was extremely creative, energetic, and observant. However, he chose to turn all focus inward and worship his own magnificent ego. His destiny was sealed and his ambition fueled. In spite of the fact that our culture is currently obsessed with all things lurid and sensationally evocative (regardless of the source), I have the sinking feeling that one day Jonathan will regret having used his family on such a grand scale (if he doesn't already).
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