Tarnation

Tarnation has been very well recieved. It hurts me to say so, as it’s obviously such a personal film, but I’m going to go out on a limb - it doesn’t work for me. I’m sure the premise is good; Jonathan Caouette created a documentary about his life and that of his mother (both of them suffer from mental problems), and employed some slightly abstract editing techniques and only semi-structured narration. The film was initially produced for $218 on a Mac, which is impressive, and doesn’t really show. But although it has occasional scenes of emotional power, some parts of the presentation are self-indulgent (lengthy scenes that don’t convey much in the way of documentation), in a way that turned me off the participants (and thus, the filmmaker). I do worry that maybe I didn’t get it, but I still ultimately came away unfulfilled by this film.