Jonathan Caouette's highly personal film lends itself more to installational video art than to cinema or even documentary. Its frenetic visual style, using splices of camcorder and digital video footage taken over a twenty year period, often detracts from what might be of interest on camera itself. There is too much lo-fi trickery for the viewer to become especially involved in what is undeniably an extraordinary family history. This is frustrating because footage obviously exists that would be able to comprise a fantastic documentary - think of Capturing the Friedmans or Grizzly Man. But unlike those films Caouette is often preoccupied with convincing the viewer of his drug-damaged worldview (we are told he became "depersonalised" after smoking PCP) through a maddening bombardment of imagery, rather than letting the real people and emotions doing the talking.
Some of the imagery is interesting, but much of it derivative and excessive. Caouette is obviously trying to achieve something more subjectivised and abstract than a straight-forward documentary, but then the effect - as with much of the gallery-based video art it resembles - is more alienating than perhaps is intended. The more he experiments with video form, the more the content is debased to sheer spectacle. Moreover, when Caouette turns the camera on himself in the film's present - willing himself to confront his family - it seems contrived, as if he can't find a way to create closure for his film without forcing an ending. Highly overrated, and not to be confused with the current renaissance in documentary cinema (including some of the films I have mentioned above).