I will almost never like a movie about a road trip, about some sick or suffering family member or emotionally stressful family situation, about a boy/girl's troubled relationship with his/her mother/father, about a childhood that's unhappy, about self-discovery in high school, about mothers who are crazy, fathers who are unloving. These types of films, however, dominate American independent filmmaking and are the sole reason why, during the Seattle International Film Festival, I do everything in my power to avoid watching and reviewing movies made by unknown or emerging American directors. Give me French, Chinese, Mexican, Iranian—anything but indie American filmmakers and all of their road trips and family issues.
That said, Jonathan Caouette's Walk Away Renee has everything I hate about American indie cinema (mentally ill mother, footage from a troubled childhood, absent father, and so on), but it is not at all bad. Indeed, there's lots of great stuff in this work: editing, images, and music—one sequence (my favorite in the documentary) uses a particularly lovely tune by the eternally ethereal Cocteau Twins. Caouette, who also directed the indie hit Tarnation back in 2004, is a talented artist, which is why he can make something good out of the kind of movie materials I deeply loathe. Northwest Film Forum, Aug 24–30.