Essentially a work of editing, Tarnation was crafted by Jonathan Caouette, a man who has been filming his difficult life ever since he was 11. At 31, he culled 160 hours of footage for the essential one and a half, to tell the story of his childhood, his family, and his consciousness. Caouette's mother suffered from severe mental illness, so Jonathan was raised by his grandparents, which did not protect him from witnessing his mother's rape. He also spent time in foster care, where he was beaten. Amid this wreckage, Jonathan developed a glamorous world of make-believe as well as depersonalization disorder, an affliction that makes everything seem like a dream. Tarnation's most notable aspect is its form -- a jumbled montage of Super-8, video, stills, and digital video with titles. Caouette is replicating his disorder, showing what the world looks like to him. But there's too much text, and it's too explanatory. Also, the film often feels like a music video, running into a blur of images and sound.
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