Jonathan Caouette's spellbinding debut Tarnation reimagines the whole idea of what a documentary can be.
Caouette has been documenting his life since he was eleven years old. With Tarnation, he weaves a psychedelic whirlwind of snapshots, Super-8 home movies, 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 torn apart by dysfunction and reunited through the power of love.
Tarnation begins in 2003 as Caouette learns of his mother's lithium overdose in his native Texas. Faced with the haunting remnants of his past, including a family legacy of mental illness, abuse, and neglect, Caouette returns home to aid in his mother's recovery. Slipping back into the archives of his youth, we watch Caouette grow up on camera, seeking escape from family trauma through musical theater, grade-B horror flicks and the forging of his identity through popular culture.
Having relocated to New York in his twenties and subsequently attaining peace in the form of a supportive mate, Caouette discovers that family ties are never truly unbound. He rekindles a touching relationship with another victim of a tumultuous childhood - his own mother Renee.
Tarnation is a raw and sensual display of self-destruction and rebirth that announces the arrival of an exceptional new cinematic visionary.
88 min., Unrated
Directed and Writer
GUS VAN SAINT
JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL
STEPHEN WINTER ASSOCIATE
BRIAN A. KATES
Dacid Sanin Paz