In "Thorn In My Heart," director Michel Gondry paints a deeply personal portrait of his beloved schoolteacher aunt Suzette. What starts as a look into her career in the French countryside ends with Suzette exploring her troubled relationship with her son Jean-Yves.
Gondry tells PopcornBiz that the personal story should encourage people to look at their own lives for their own fascinating tales. "We are so obsessed with looking into the lives of people who have 'achieved' something official -- people in the light of fame or in magazines," says Gondry. "It seems like people like that live a more intense life."
"I'm trying to show that life is so much more complex," he adds. "You can look at any member of your family and find great treasures of emotion and story."
Gondry spent four years working on "Thorn" in between his other various film projects. He used a small crew and often filmed his family during solo conversations to dig into deeper, previously undiscussed family issues.
Gondry takes issue with the critics who have snipped that the film is too personal.
"In America people say, 'How dare you talk about your own family.' It's like I am being arrogant," says Gondry. "It's more about paying attention to everyone."
As far as his 84-year-old Aunt Suzette, who is still in strong health, there is no discussion of a family sequel for the film which opens today. "It's been too nerve-wracking for her," he says of the deeper discussions in the film. "She's recovered and she's happy to see her son really grew from this."
"There are horrible secrets in every family and sometimes they just build up."