The Thorn in the Heart
Great filmmakers are no strangers to solipsistic family documentaries—Jonathan Demme released Cousin Bobby fresh off his The Silence of the Lambs Oscar win—but Michel Gondry’s The Thorn in the Heart is little more than glorified vacation photos. Gondry turns his camera on his aunt Suzette, a headstrong septuagenarian who spent more than 30 years teaching at various French rural schools. Gondry follows Suzette to visit her old schoolhouses, at which point the film essentially becomes a dreary travelogue of the French countryside. Despite the very personal nature of the picture—which covers Suzette’s dead husband and her rocky relationship with her disturbed son—the film feels uniquely impersonal, and lacks both context for and insight into its main character. The only reason we have to be interested in Suzette’s story is that she is Michel Gondry’s aunt.