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Thorn in the Heart

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Product Details

  • Actors: Suzette Gondry, Michel Gondry
  • Directors: Michel Gondry
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Oscilloscope
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003O3EKSS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,812 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Thorn in the Heart" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Filmmaker Michel Gondry turns from the playful semi-surrealism of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and The Science Of Sleep to the personal story of a beloved family member in this documentary. Suzette Gondry is Michel's aunt and a retired schoolteacher; she educated children in rural communities in France from 1952 to 1986. While Suzette was committed to the education of all her students, she was a particularly close with one in particular -- her son, Jean-Yves, with whom she's had a loving but sometimes combative relationship. Michel accompanies Suzette on a journey in which she visits the many schools where she taught -- or the sites where those schools once stood -- and speaks of her experiences. She also meets some of her former students, and it's clear they recall Suzette as a woman with a kind heart but a strong will, and her determination earned her the enmity of a few of her charges.


The Thorn in the Heart is the most highly personal film yet from a director known for making films that show quirky human connection (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Flight of the Conchords). In this documentary, Michel Gondry has taken as subject matter his stalwart aunt Suzette, who confidently describes to the camera her historic teaching career in the French countryside. Suzette Gondry's tale is intriguing, as the director follows her from town to town to revisit decrepit schoolhouses, now overgrown with vines. She reunites with ex-students, some of them Harkis, Algerian soldiers who braved their War for Independence then settled in the region where Suzette settled. (There is also an excellent extra feature, "A Brief History of the Harkis," that furthers their roles in the film.) Starting in the 1950s, Gondry chronicles, year by year through vintage Super 8 film mixed in with new interviews of his elderly aunt, what adult life was like in tiny schoolhouses, and more profoundly, what strain this rural lifestyle placed upon relationships with her sawmill-employed husband, Jean-Guy, and her son, Jean-Yves. From here, the film takes a home-movie approach. When Gondry exposes his inner familial conflicts, one feels like a spy. Jean-Yves, a righteous model-train builder whose trains demarcate regional scene splits throughout, is obviously much more private than his mother, thereby adding to the film's overall eavesdropping sensibility. That said, while the subject matter is at times awkwardly private, the film's execution employs the viewer-friendly touches we know and love from Gondry. Animations made by Valerie Pirson, also explored further in the extra feature "Stop Motion Animation by Valerie Pirson," and a cool school-kid sequence soundtracked by Charlotte Gainsbourg renegotiate the film for a wider audience. While The Thorn in the Heart is too personal to be relevant in mainstream theaters, it gracefully illustrates Gondry's love of cinematic experimentation. --Trinie Dalton

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R Zern on June 21, 2010
Format: DVD
I was able to see this movie at SXSW this year, and I'm grateful that I had that privilege.

I really enjoy being able to look into a stranger's life and just learn random tidbits that would otherwise remain unknown. Being able to see the life of Suzette Gondry was very interesting. The film seemed like a personal movie that Michel made just for him and his family, but it was neat being able to watch this film and feel as if you're being welcomed into their lives--if even just a small part.

After learning about all the ups and downs of her life and watching the impact she has had on many people, I felt as if Suzette had been a part of my life.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I want to be nice and give this two stars in a sympathetic sort of way, but no. It's just bad. Don't waste your time. Go buy the Directors series DVDs instead, or his new one. This is just not interesting.
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By Braden Israel Friedman on December 30, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Enjoyed immensely :)
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