The Thorn in My Heart -- Film Review

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CANNES -- Home movies are swell if you know the people or it's about your family. This home movie/Seances speciales selection by filmmaker Michel Gondry documents the life of his schoolteacher aunt, Suzette.

"The Thorn in My Heart" should be intriguing to all who know the family, as well as to cineastes yonder at the arty film schools who will lap up its elliptical/self-reflexive style. Normal people will simply walk out on it.

Beginning with a static dinner discussion where Suzette starts to reminisce about her life, "The Thorn in My Heart" dissipates into self-indulgent tedium: People we don't know reminisce about people they once knew. Suzette stands in an empty schoolroom and points out where everything once was. On and on. One could make the argument that the film may someday offer up clues to cultural anthropologists who are curious about the oddities of late 20th century folk.

After a long while, Gondry's meandering rhythms settle into an amiable, if grueling, gait. Suzette, it turns out, is a spry woman who was a strict disciplinarian at school. All the while, she endured a chaotic home life with an erratic husband, whom no one really talks about. The thorn in her heart refers to a family disappointment, which we won't reveal but, alas, is not particularly interesting anyway.

Blending Super 8 footage of family events with walk-around recollections by Suzette, "The Thorn in My Heart" waddles along in blithe unawareness of its minimal depth. Covering a period from the early 1950s to the '80s, there are reunions with former students, former colleagues and long sections of Suzette simply reflecting in voiceover. Fortunately, the family wasn't that large and it finally ends after a long 86 minutes.
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