Back in 2003, Jonathan Caouette dug through years of home video and answering machine recordings to assemble his debut feature film, the incredibly intimate documentary “Tarnation.” Focusing on his childhood and relationship with a schizophrenic mother (suffering from such disorders due to shock therapy), the movie was an intense punch to the gut, a frenetic autobiography that exposed a rather frightening and ugly side of family. After dabbling in other projects (including music festival doc “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and the short film “All Flowers In Time” with Chloë Sevigny), Caouette has returned to the well with “Walk Away Renee,” a sequel which follows the director and his mother as they road trip to her new home in a New York-based assisted-living facility. Things are complicated after the duo discovers that most of the Renee’s medication has been lost and the prescriptions cannot be replenished until they reach her new home.
‘Renee’ is an emotionally piercing documentary, one that continues the filmmaker’s dissertation on family while also pondering bigger ideas such as the reality of documented footage and even the existence of alternate universes. Below we have two clips from the film, one featuring a pleasurable stop in New Orleans, while the other is a more unsettling glimpse into Jonathan’s frantic conversations with doctors over his mother’s well being.
“Walk Away Renee” will screen at BAMCinemafest on June 27th and, for those not in the New York City area, it will also be available on SundanceNOW.com as part of the documentary subscription service Doc Club.