Tarnished angel (Film Column)

Kyle Smith

Tarnation” is the most expensive $187 movie ever made.

Since the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, there has been much brouhaha regarding Jonathan Caouette’s mega-personal documentary and its humble iMovie beginnings. After finally seeing the movie, I can only offer a skeptical “hooey.” Caouette’s film is a completely unique, intensely moving portrait of growing up American regardless of its miniscule budget.

The cinephiles of the world look to idealize anyone who makes a decent movie for no money. With Shane Carruth, creator of the remarkable $7,000 “Primer,” this is justified. The only technical achievement Caouette should be proud of is that he has four consecutive vowels in his name.

This is because the technical process of making “Tarnation” may have cost $187, but it has no bearing on the content or form of the film. What constitutes “Tarnation” is 90 minutes of familial grief, suffering and fighting, interspersed with only the occasional smile or sign of happiness. “Tarnation” is a movie about pain, and (if you’ll allow an awful clich