The Thorn in the Heart

Overview

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 ...
See more details below
DVD (Wide Screen)
$13.60
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$14.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (DVD)
  • All (10) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $9.14   
  • Used (3) from $1.99   

Overview

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. L'Epine dans le Coeur aka The Thorn in the Heart was an official selection at the 2009 BFI London Film Festival.
Read More Show Less

Special Features

A Brief History of the Harkis; Techno Suzette; Calendars Doodled - One Year Of Drawings by Youngsters; Stop Motion Animation by Gondry Collaborator Valerie Pirson; Charlotte Gainsbourg's "Little Monsters"; Post-Screening Q&A with Gondry at SXSW Premiere; In Conversation - A Special Event with Michel Gondry at SXSW Film Festival
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Michel Gondry's heartfelt and intimate documentary The Thorn in the Heart stands at the intersection of two unique film traditions: a strain of offbeat cinematic autobiography characterized by self-reflexive, patchwork essay films that proliferated on the festival circuit just after the advent of digital video, and a subgenre of French pastoral documentary -- typified by Nicolas Philibert's To Be and to Have and Raymond Depardon's Profils Paysans chronicles -- dedicated to poetically capturing the vicissitudes of Gallic farm life. The subject in this case is Gondry's aunt Suzette, a retired schoolteacher in her eighties who spent the period of 1952-1986 migrating from one hamlet to another, a year or two in each locale, educating French children with the often-unconventional approaches that she saw fit. Courtesy of a marvelous opener set at a feast around the family dinner table, where Suzette occupies the center chair and entertains everyone including herself with an outrageously funny tale about her late husband, Gondry immediately enables the audience to grow enchanted with this magnetic and charismatic woman. He shows us how she functions as the glue that holds kith and kin together, and then moves into the body of the film itself, which intercuts two main threads, both related to Suzette. One of those threads explores a number of the complicated, issue-ridden dynamics that belie the family's seemingly placid exterior. For example, we learn about the conflicts experienced by Suzette's homosexual son, Jean-Yves, in having a strict disciplinarian who doubled as both mother and teacher; about Jean-Yves' onetime yen to attend culinary school, and his decision to forego this by staying home and working in a sawmill to please his late father; and about Suzette infuriating her children by refusing to relay news of their father's death until two days after it occurred. Director Gondry's success lies in broaching this material with an easy hand. He seems to realize, likely aware of the risks of exploitation associated with unveiling family conflicts, that full disclosure is not merely unnecessary but unwise, perhaps even unethical -- and that pointed and poignant glimpses will more than suffice. Intercut with this material, the remainder of the footage follows the various geographic stops of Suzette's career, proceeding chronologically from 1952 into the mid-'80s. Gondry adds a much-needed element of narrative structure by dividing this material into chapters. Each begins with the name of a French village where Suzette taught, and each witnesses Suzette's nostalgic return to that particular site as a retiree. Because Gondry remains exclusively focused on Suzette as his subject, we get virtually no cutaways detailing the character or geography of each village -- only close-ups of Suzette reminiscing about her time in the locale at hand -- and that feels entirely appropriate. The footage itself is emotionally overpowering, and perhaps no more so than in two critical sequences: one recounting Suzette's actions in 1962, when she defied common practice during the Franco-Algerian war by taking in and educating numerous Algerian students, and another, late in the film, that provides visual illustrations of Suzette's individualistic teaching methods -- techniques that included instructing the children in swimming and whisking them off on a series of field trips to unusual sites. In each case, Gondry conveys the particulars with a breathtaking, virtually seamless interpolation of still photographs and home-movie footage. We do get traces of the stylistic whimsicality that has come to typify Gondry's work throughout the documentary, and the results here are variable. At times, this seems entirely fitting, even ingenious -- as in an instance where he uses stop-motion animation to illustrate a rural movie house with mobile inner walls that Suzette is recalling. On other occasions -- as in the case of an effects-heavy fantasy sequence with schoolchildren trying on clothes to make themselves "invisible" -- it seems merely precious and self-indulgent. The film's only other major lapse involves an odd passage that recalls Suzette moving to New York for a year with two teenage children. The narrative grows muddled during this sequence, both in terms of the timing in Suzette's life, and in terms of the identity of the children and Suzette's relationship to them. These lapses aside, the film as a whole represents a fantastic achievement -- haunting, deftly poetic, and beautifully observed. It may constitute something of a departure from Gondry's prior work, but it's a thoroughly welcome one that merits considerable attention.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/10/2010
  • UPC: 896602002166
  • Original Release: 2009
  • Source: Oscilloscope
  • Region Code: 0
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound
  • Language: Français
  • Time: 1:26:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 96,069

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Suzette Gondry Participant, Participant
Jean-Yves Gondry Participant
Technical Credits
Michel Gondry Director, Screenwriter
Georges Bermann Producer
Jean-Louis Bompoint Cinematographer
Guillaume Le braz Sound/Sound Designer
Zoe Chan Art Director
Nathaniel Hörnblowér Executive Producer
Andre Kelman Sound Mixer
Debra McClutchy Producer
Marie-Charlotte Moreau Editor
Khalio Tahhar Production Manager
Read More Show Less

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Thorn in the Heart
1. Sauerkraut And Couscous [5:43]
2. Teaching In Les Salles [6:37]
3. Mother as Teacher [7:23]
4. Harki School Children [5:30]
5. Home Movies [3:59]
6. A Film by Grémillon [4:52]
7. "It's Not Easy" [7:02]
8. The Mayor's Wife [3:37]
9. Invisible [5:21]
10. Jean-Guy [5:51]
11. New York [4:55]
12. Avant-Garde Teacher [5:59]
13. "The Thorn In My Heart" [1:31]
14. Reunions [2:10]
15. "She's Gone All Showbiz" [6:12]
16. End Credits [7:36]
Read More Show Less

Menu

Disc #1 -- Thorn in the Heart
   Play Film
   Chapters
   Set Up
      Audio Options
         Stereo
         5.1
      English Subtitles
         English Subtitles: On
         English Subtitles: Off
   Extra Features
      A Brief History of the Harkis
         Play
      Calendars Doodled
      Techno Suzette
      Michel Gondry At 2010 SXSW Film Festival
         Post-Screening Q&A at the SXSW Premiere
         In Conversation: A Special Event With Michel Gondry
      Charlotte Gainsbourg "Little Monsters"
      Animations by Valerie Pirson
   Oscilloscope Releases
      The Law
      The Thorn In The Heart
      Terribly Happy
      The Messenger
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously