The Thorn in the Heart (2010)


Critic Consensus: Michel Gondry's directorial style is as bewitching as ever, but his intensely personal subject matter may leave viewers wondering why The Thorn in the Heart didn't stay in the family.


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Movie Info

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. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Thorn in the Heart

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (12)

Even as a fan, I found it very self-indulgent.

Dec 9, 2010 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Its rambling structure, peppered with lyrical, magical-realist asides, may not be to all tastes, but there's a sense that Gondry wants this to be more than an eccentric personal portrait...

Dec 9, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Brimming with affection and beautifully shot, but it builds a flimsy case for why it matters.

May 13, 2010 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

This is an extraordinary film.

Apr 5, 2010 | Full Review…

As Mr. Gondry unfolds the story of her life, and of her inability to connect with the son she sees as weak, you can understand why it would consume a familyâ(TM)s interest, but youâ(TM)re not sure why he thought it would pique ours.

Apr 2, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The film is well-constructed, as one would expect from Gondry, but it offers little reason for anyone outside the family circle to care about dear old Tante Suzette.

Apr 2, 2010 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Thorn in the Heart

Michel Gondry thought that his Aunt's life would make an interesting documentary. It doesn't.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

"The Thorn in the Heart" is a documentary from Michel Gondry about his aunt Suzette, concentrating on her teaching career and the people whose lives she has touched over the decades. Just because the material is slight does not stop Gondry from using it to explore some of his favorite themes including memory while having fun with the documentary genre itself, as the movie becomes very meta at times through heightened transparency. One example is the recreation of the infamous blocked bathroom door incident. The highlight for me was the model train set that was used in chapter titles which is a very nice touch especially if you are watching this documentary on a train as I was.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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