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Part documentary, part narrative fiction, part home movie, and part acid trip. A psychedelic whirlwind of snapshots, Super-8 home movies, old 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 travesty. The story begins in 2003 when Jonathan learns that his schizophrenic mother, Renee, has overdosed on her lithium medication. He is catapulted back into his real and horrifying family legacy of rape, incest, abandonment, promiscuity, drug addiction, child abuse, and psychosis.… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Nearly impossible to watch, thoroughly unpleasant yet strangely arresting."
‑ Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
"An astonishing multimedia diary ... all accompanied by a scrolled family history that is as harrowing to read as a ransom note."
‑ Stephen Cole, Globe and Mail
"Witness his hilarious high school musical rendition of David Lynch's Blue Velvet: much like the documentary itself, it's a heartbreaking, beautiful monstrosity."
‑ Luke Goodsell, Empire Magazine Australasia
"Jonathan had plenty to be woeful about, but the movie is best when it slips quietly into the pockets between his family's dramatic episodes."
‑ Robert Davis, Paste Magazine
"A twisted pastiche of pain, suffering, and narcissistic indulgence."
‑ Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
"A soul-baring scrapbook of a film, its audacity surpassed only by its tragedy."
‑ Bill Muller, Arizona Republic
"The movie climbs inside your head and rattles your consciousness."
‑ Robert Denerstein, Denver Rocky Mountain News
"An original, personal, emotionally touching documentary, which represents a new type of indie, based on innovating filmmaking."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Como toda confesión, en la que alguien desnuda su intimidad sin pudor para quien quiera escuchar, Tarnation es capaz de generar desde la fascinación curiosa hasta la incomodidad y el rechazo."
‑ Enrique Buchichio, Uruguay Total
"Full of real humanity and occasional insight, this is not the most feelgood movie you'll see this year, but in its total honesty it does manage to be important and moving."
‑ Scott Andrews, FilmFocus
"Although aggressively unconventional, it's never pretentious."
‑ Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star
"In making beautiful peace with a difficult past, Caouette has delivered a promising vision of a future."
‑ Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post
"As performance art born of personal pain, "Tarnation" stares teary-eyed into how genetics, culture, environment and susceptibility conspire to trigger mental illness - a documentary more to be experienced than simply viewed."
‑ Nick Rogers, Suite101.com
"The film is in the May program of the Charlotte Film Society, and even the CFS has offered few pictures this compellingly strange."
‑ Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer
"There's no doubting the deep love Caouette feels for his troubled mother, nor his achievement in forging such a rawly emotional film from his own traumatic experiences."
‑ Tom Dawson, BBC.com
More reviews for Tarnation on Rotten Tomatoes