I went to this movie expecting something amazing, and I left it feeling rather flat. I guess, I bought into the hype that was building up around it. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to admire about the project, but most of it was from a technical standpoint.
For those who are not familiar with this film, it chronicles the life of Jonathan Cauoette, who also produced, wrote, edited, and directed. The focus is split between himself and his mother, Renee. Renee was a young mother who possibly grew up in abusive household and underwent shock therapy for many years. Through this time, Jonathan had his own problems growing up, from his time in foster care, to living with his grandparents, to finally striking out on his own.
Tarnation is a patchwork of old video clips, sound bites, photographs, pretty much anything he could get his hands on, plus some current emotional setup scenes of himself. His ability to piece all of this together into a cohesive narrative is quite a feat. It shows that he has the ability to place together this disparate collection of media into a tapestry that is worth watching. My problem with this movie lies with the content.
As I watched the film, I couldn't help but feel it was a case of someone trying to displace blame for his and his mother's life. It was as if parts of the story were left out. Not to mention a displacement of himself in the proceedings, always referring to himself as Jonathan. He never comes clean in the film proper that he is the director of the piece. This colors the proceedings to me. Granted, this could just be his way of dealing what has gone on in his life, but it comes across as more of a "woe is me" as opposed to being a cry for help.