Saturday, March 19, 2005

film - Tarnation

Tarnation 4/5

This is another documentary, which chronicles the lives of the 30-something filmmaker and his family’s tragic experiences with mental illness, and barbaric electro-shock therapy used on his mom.

Jonathan Caouette recounts the story of his mom and how she became a beautiful child and adult model, beginning at age 11, while watching her descent into madness from mental illness and drug abuse. At the same time, he tells his own story of growing up with a screwed up, fatherless family. It’s not pretty.

Caouette gathered up old family footage and combined it with his own to create a swirling cavalcade of family history, and jarring, disturbing, funny imagery. The naked honesty in this film is stunning. It’s all captured here, warts and all, allegations and denials, the ugliness and the unconditional love.

The film is feels overly long and at times, a tad tedious. There are some scenes with his pathetic, brain-damaged mother, that are excruciating to watch, but at the same time, no one in the film is acting. Some of the footage of Adolph and Rosemary (everyone is referred to by their first name) is straight out of Springfield and Grandpa Simpson.

There was quite an audience for Tarnation, but it is definitely not for the less adventurous. I’m really pleased that I saw it, though.

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