Franz Patrick's Movie Review of Tarnation

Rating of


Franz Patrick - wrote on 12/11/08

Jonathan Caouette made this film for about two hundred dollars. Not only do I find that amazing, I also find it inspiring. Caouette really got creative with his storytelling: from voice-overs and fonts to home videos and photographs, all of them serve to progress the story. In a way, I got the sense that Caouette had been planning to make this film ever since he was a boy. Although the crux of this documentary is Caouette’s schizophrenic mother, I argue that this is more about Caouette’s journey from childhood to adulthood. I found it interesting that his sexuality is not a hindrance in his life, which is so unlike most LGBT films, both in fiction and non-fiction. The scenes where he would take on a particular character starting from when he was eleven blew my mind because he could act so well. I’m surprised he didn’t pursue an acting career when he turned into an adult. Still, this movie is its own worst enemy. Even though I loved Caouette’s creativity, sometimes he becomes too creative with his images to the point where they get distracting and considerably slows the story down (near the end of the feature). I liked that there were some “truths” that may seem true one minute and false the next; the unanswered questions had the same effect on me. Casual moviegoers will most likely not find this movie impressive at all because it’s really kind of an acquired taste. You watch enough movies and you get sick of the same old style and when films like this comes out, it’s refreshing and interesting. This documentary, though flawed, has a lot of heart and I feel like I got a real peek at Caouette’s life even for just a little bit. It made me want to buy a camera and start recording moments in my life. Ebert and Roeper said that Caouette edited the picture masterfully. I could not agree more.

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