17 March 2010

The Thorn in the Heart

Written & Directed by: Michel Gondry
Full credits at IMDb

Michel Gondry’s last few films have concerned communities engaged in creation, from Block Party’s Bed Stuy hip-hop hootenanny to Be Kind Rewind’s inner-city indie cinema. In his latest, the non-fiction The Thorn in the Heart (L’Épine dans le Coeur), playing as part of the Rendezvous with French Cinema series, he finds yet another to document. But this time, the community’s creation is the community itself: it’s his family. And, they’re making a movie together.

Gondry’s doc centers on his aunt, Suzette, a septuagenarian in good health and spirits, and follows as she and others revisit the events (figuratively) and locales (literally) from her life, like the countryside écoles where she once taught, many now reduced to rubble. (Those serve as visual demonstrations of the passage of time and the fragility of the material—that is, they’re poignant.) Her life includes minor intersections with French history—Algerian immigrants!—and Gondry tells her story with characteristic whimsy: shots of HO-scale trains to suggest geographic movement; tongue-in-cheek recreations of minor comedic moments that the camera missed; playful experiments with children and special effects; and precious soundtracking.

Keep reading at The L Magazine.

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