|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(aka 'The Thorn in the Heart')
Theatrical Release: May 15th, 2009 - Cannes
DVD Review: Oscilloscope - Region 0 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Oscilloscope - Region 0 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate:7.47 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
|Audio||French (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
• A Brief History of the Harkis (14:59)
Oscilloscope continue their trend of releasing interesting films on DVD - see past editions; Kent MacKenzie' The Exiles (with Milestone), Sebastián Silva's intimate The Maid, the Danish mystery/thriller Terribly Happy and the 1977 documentary Word is Out. Gondry's The Thorn in the Heart is less a family portrait but instead focuses most of its attention on his aunt, retired school teacher Suzette Gondry, and the conflicting relationship with her less formal, bandana wearing, son Jean-Yves. The generational disparity - even in later life - is certainly not unique but the way Gondry captures the past through vintage family films and old photos blending in the quiet, impressive, countryside adds just the right touch of humility and realism to the proceedings. There is a lot of beauty here tucked into unused corners.
The transfer is excellent - spotlessly clean, progressive, dual-layered and anamorphic with altering aspect ratios dependant on the use of the older material. Much of the French country cinematography borders on breathtaking - at least in the context in which it is utilized. Audio offers 2 options - a 2.0 channel stereo or superfluous 5.1. There are optional English subtitles for both the feature and supplements that require it. The package is another handsome eco-friendly cardboard multi-fold-out case.
Extras are strong and center around a post-screening Q&A with Michel Gondry at SXSW premiere for about a dozen minutes and an "In Conversation" piece - a special event with Gondry at SXSW Film Festival for shy of 25-minutes. There are other tidbits - a Brief History of the Harkis, some doodled calendars by youngsters (recall Suzette was a teacher), 2-minutes of stop motion animation by Gondry collaborator Valerie Pirson and a Charlotte Gainsbourg 2-minute short; "Little Monsters".
I found the film engaging as it, thankfully, didn't melt into the overused gentility of the family bonds - it is more matter-of-fact and less romantic. Perhaps the whole project would be considered an indulgence of the director. The honesty is rare and, perhaps, makes its impact at a much more subtle level. This is good filmmaking - no doubt - and it reveals much more than one might anticipate. I expect many will find some value here although the current price seems at the high end.