Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 32 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 43 Ratings

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  • Summary: Jonathan Caouette's film reimagines the whole idea of what a documentary can be. He weaves a psychedelic whirlwind of snapshots, Super-8 home movies, 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 torn apart by dysfunction and reunited through the power of love. (Wellspring Media) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. 100
    It is a remarkable film, immediate, urgent, angry, poetic and stubbornly hopeful.
  2. 100
    A tale of sadness and hysteria so raw that it bleeds.
  3. Layering soundtrack and visuals in an intricate collage of rich emotional texture, he (Jonathan Caouette) displays an exhilarating talent.
  4. Watching Jonathan Caouette's amazing autobiographical documentary Tarnation is like descending into a pop-music, underground-movie hell and heaven, the shattered and shattering landscape of a living body and mind.
  5. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    80
    For all the courage and ingenuity of this extraordinary film, it's clear that Caouette has actually resolved few issues and that his life is still very much a work in progress.
  6. Caouette's fractured history is imbued with heart-crushing sincerity.
  7. 58
    I reckon that for everyone who's enthralled by the film there will be others who wish they'd heard about it rather than seen it.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 25
  2. Negative: 3 out of 25
  1. Jun 18, 2012
    10
    This is the film I gaurantee you have never ever seen before and unavoidably, will stuck in your head for the rest of your life. The most powerful and inspirational piece of documentary feature and is considered,personally, to be the true triumph of the film's world.
    [Harrowing, Hopeful, Remarkable, Masterpiece!]
    Expand
  2. Scarlet
    Mar 8, 2006
    10
    It was one of the best documenterys I've seen in a while plus it got my grade in school out of the trash can.
  3. CarlM.
    Nov 28, 2005
    10
    Very probably one of the best movies I have ever watched. If its really a documentary it is the best documentary ever, if it is fiction it will still be a movie so strong and heartbreaking that it will change your life - and how many movies actually have the power to influence other peoples lifes so much? Strangely enough, I somehow don't really look forward to any more movies from Jonathan, I simply hope this masterpiece will give Jonathan the peace of mind he deserves. Expand
  4. SEBASTIAN
    Oct 20, 2006
    10
    What would you feel if you have the possibilitie of watch your life on TV?. This film is astonishing
  5. ShaunaT.
    Aug 9, 2006
    7
    This film has some good moments, but it is unfocused. there are long surreal clips that occur simultaneously and often nonsensically. it is not nearly a masterpiece, its too much of a mess. maybe its a critic's film, because i love unique and intelligent films and i was not turned off by the depressing subject matter, but i found this film to be amateur-ish and badly edited. some material was very irrelevant and self-indulgent. Expand
  6. MichaelL.
    Jan 11, 2006
    5
    This film started so strongly; I was mesmerized by the visuals, the Low soundtrack, the edginess--yet compassion it contained in those first 15 minutes. Then it soared downhill. A real shame--because this should have been a masterpiece judging from the promise of the opening. Instead, it becomes Caouette's song of himself--a music video walking on the wild side. All the fancy effects, groovy camerawork and nifty music can't make up for narrative that disappears. Characters appear and disappear so quickly, one has no chance of making a connection. Except Caouette himself--and his obvious need for validation. That, perhaps is the final impression of this film. It feels insincere exploitive in the end. Collapse
  7. frankT
    Jan 10, 2006
    4
    Solipsistic bore. mean-spirited in the cornering of the granparents on film. as if they're equipped to deal with his on camera accusatory questions. another failed actor who turns the camera on himself (see Super-Size me for the other one.) Expand

See all 25 User Reviews

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