Friday, April 2, 2010

The Thorn in the Heart

I interviewed Michel Gondry for BLACKBOOK Magazine on the subject of his new documentary, L'épine dans le coeur. Distribution, through Oscilloscope, seems to have been great: the trailer does what all great trailers should do, nudge you into thinking the movie's gonna be a kooky, wild ride.

But it's not so much, I would argue. The film tackles an old pain that lies between Gondry's aunt Suzette and his cousin Jean-Yves, and though the filmmaker prods the parties to bury grudges, it's a difficult task. Gondry ends up having to distract us with detours, anecdotes, animation, like the real work of family mending is actually too difficult and personal for him. Though the effort is honest, the final product isn't totally coherent -- as Gondry docs go, it's no Dave Chapelle's Block Party.

The best parts of the film were the old Super 8s that Michel had dug out of somewhere, filmed mostly by teenage Jean-Yves.

The footage shows us a beautiful rural France that really reminds me of Truffaut's 1976 film Small Change, you know, a world where children wore bellbottoms and drank wine with their haricots verts. I wish there'd been more of this fun junk -- or perhaps a whole movie that bright and weird and shuffled-as-a-music video, something more truly Gondryesque than the dreariness of his subject matter would allow.

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