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Tarnation (2003)

Cast: Jonathan Caouette, Jonathan Caouette, Renee LeBlanc, more...
Director: Jonathan Caouette, Jonathan Caouette
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Fox Lorber
Genre: Documentary, Biographies, Experimental/Avant-Garde
Running Time: 85 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: French
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In the making since the director was 11-years-old and completed on a reported budget of about 200 dollars, Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation is an experimental and self-reflective mix of documentary and fiction. Bringing together a collection of home movies, family photos, answering machine messages, reenactments and Caouette's video diary, the film attempts to delve into the filmmaker's experiences growing up queer with a schizophrenic mother and dealing with her 2003 lithium overdose, which rendered her even more mentally unstable than before. After premiering at the 2003 New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Tarnation screened as part of the Frontier program at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Boring Garbage by heidijane October 19, 2007 - 2:37 PM PDT
0 out of 4 members found this review helpful
The word "masturbatory" does not even begin to describe this self absorbed piece of trash. Its interesting for five minutes, then you want to walk away.

fascinating for the story by kinaidos March 14, 2006 - 8:48 AM PST
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
The story of the film just happens to be fascinating, a mother rendered insane by shock treatment, nearly retarded grand-parents responsible for this, a queer son who lives through many of the tropes of 80s 90s queer culture as he films it.
The editing is quite well done, and the film is engaging throughout.
The third person text narrated autobiography becomes a bit worn pretty quickly, but the footage is decent in enough to keep you in the story in spite of that.

Insanity for one and all by SBergfalk July 27, 2005 - 8:39 AM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Tarnation is worth your time. As bad as you think your life might be, it's not anywhere as screwed up as J. Caouette's (the director's) life. The film is funny, scary, moving, visually compelling, and most surprisingly insightful. What makes this documentary/fiction work so amazing is that Caouette shows his destroyed mother so tenderly and so lovingly that we cannot help feeling a sense of deep admiration and pity for her. Caouette also shows his attempts to claim his own sense of identity and humanity through filmmaking, performance, and relationships. On a fundamental level, the film is about destruction and renewal (through art).

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.57)
154 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2004
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
Stranger than Fiction
Alphabetical Order: Essential Docs for anyone who loves Films

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