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Movie Review: Tarnation

Alternate Title: Self-portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (other possible titles in contention were I, Diarist and The Best Little Nuthouse in Texas)

Story: 31 year old director, author and star Jonathan Caouette presents a film like no other I have ever seen. He was given a Super-8 camera when he was 11 years old and has been documenting his life ever since.

His life was certainly not like yours (I hope) or mine. His mother has been in and out of mental hospitals for 25 years. His grandparents raised him and it would seen that they should have been institutionalized as well. His upbringing was a nightmare and he developed a psychological disorder called depersonalization. Essentially, that means he sees himself as a spectator in his own life.

How this translates into film is the beauty of the art. Caouette's larger than life heart is apparent throughout. His story unfolds through a montage of images that are strung together with narrative type.

The fact that this young man emerges out of the dark tunnel where he was raised intact is worth your time alone. That and the amazing imagery should get you to your local theater when it plays there.

Acting: This film defies categorization so I am not sure if it a documentary where 'acting' is not applicable.

Predilection: None.

Critters: Three dogs and a cat.

Food: This family did not seem to ever eat. Perhaps that was part of their dysfunctional problem.

Visual Art: The film is a visual barrage of techniques that alters reality such as kaleidoscope, blurred, bleached, high contrast and silhouettes. If you have ever experimented with psychedelic drugs you might have a flash back or two.

Blatant Product Placement: This film could be a testimonial for Apple computers. It was made for $218 on an iMac using imovie.

Soundtrack: Appropriately moving.

Theater Audience: About 30 people. One guy left in the middle.

Sappy Factor: Oh, for a little sap in this heartbreaker of a tale.

Quirky Meter: 5

Drift Range: I did not drift at all.

Squirm Scale: 3. I felt deeply for this poor boy's upbringing (or lack, thereof).

Predictability Level: I did not have a clue where this film was headed.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: This film was pared down from many more hours of footage. There were some characters that were introduced (like a son and long lost father) that needed more of a conclusion.

Big Screen or Rental: This one has to be seen on the big screen.

Length: 90 minutes.