When describing this month’s film, I cited Scorsese’s Italianamerican as an influence (see my previous post). Another source of inspiration, from another of my favorite directors, is the recent The Thorn in the Heart by Michel Gondry. The film was quietly released last year in only a few theaters with little to no promotion. Given the personal nature of it, and its low budget aesthetic, I guess it didn’t seem like a good fit for a filmmaker who lately seems more interested in breaking into the Hollywood mainstream. It has now found a home on DVD from Oscilloscope (the Beastie Boys-affiliated label) and on is available on Netflix Instant view.
The Thorn in the Heart is a documentary Gondry made about his own family, namely his aunt Suzette. Suzette had been a school teacher for almost 40 years in various parts of France. Gondry takes her on a tour of her former work sites as she recalls stories from them and meets former colleagues and students. Interwoven are brief scenes that display Gondry’s knack for DIY filmmaking such as stop-motion animation, and sequences involving model trains (side note: in my opinion, it is this approach to film that Michel needs to make a return to, and stop focusing on the big-budget, star drive vehicles like Green Hornet). Also touched upon are personal familial stories, especially the relationship between Suzette and her son Jean-Yves.