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Holidaymakers arriving in a Club Med camp on the Ivory Coast are determined to forget their everyday problems and emotional disappointments. Games, competitions, outings, bathing and sunburn accompany a continual succession of casual affairs.
Lucien Ginsburg, a rebellious French Jewish boy with a grotesque imagination, hates playing the piano like his father, a bar professional, and manages to be admitted to Montmartre Academy as a painter, where he befriends an SS officer who helps him survive the occupation. After the war, he chooses to become a performing artist and adopts the stage name Serge Gainsbourg. His unorthodox songs bring him success, even his parents's approval, and lots of lovers, yet his marriages are all utter failures.Written by
Director Joann Sfar spent his boyhood enthralled by the mystique of Serge Gainsbourg. He moved to Paris as an adult expressly to meet his idol but unfortunately Gainsbourg died of a heart attack a month later. See more »
In the 135 minute version of the film a nightclub reveler laughs about Gainsbourg being parodied on 'Guignols de l'info' (a French puppet show in which celebrities are mocked) but in the same scene Gainsbourg meets Bambou for the first time (his last wife). He married Bambou in 1981 but the Guignols were only created in 1988. See more »
At the start of the end credits is a quote from writer-director Joann Sfar: "J'aime trop Gainsbourg pour le ramener au réel. Ce ne sont pas les vérités de Gainsbourg qui m'intéressent, ce sont ses mensonges." ("Gainsbourg transcends reality. I much prefer his lies to his truths.") See more »
England is the first territory to release a new cut of the film, running 14 minutes shorter than the previous version and is Joann Sfar's preferred one. Changes include -
Deletion of the scene where young Serge pleads in vain for his mother to buy him a gun to play with, even attempting to bribe her by saying he'll work harder on the piano. This precedes the scene where he steals the gun from the shop.
Deletion of the scene where Serge and Boris Vian walk to his apartment and the two lie in the road in an effort to stop a cab. While they wait Serge reveals he has a double that follows him around to which Vian replies his is a werewolf. However two policemen soon cut the conversation short. (This precedes Serge arriving at Boris's apartment and explains a later scene where a drunken Serge lies in the road before having the police escort to his concert)
Longer scene of the "Baby Pop" groupies, as Gainsbourg wakes up in bed with two naked women as his Mug joyously tosses bank statements at him revealing how rich he is from "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" alone! This is the original lead in to "Qui Est In Qui Est Out".
The groupies and party to "Qui Est In Qui Est Out" is cut short, removing Serge narrating about "the mouth being the primary sexual organ". His narration reveals the girls in the room he has slept with and how he was with them. It reveals Gainsbourg's occasional cruel streak and precedes the angry neighbor banging on the door.
After Gainsbourg recites La Marseillaise at the press conference, we then see young Serge repeating it and triumphantly raising his fist to the audience.
Deletion of a short exchange in the nightclub when a reveller comments to Gainsbourg about him being parodied on a French TV show. The new version removes these lines either because the show is unknown outside of France or because it doesn't tie in as being the night Gainsbourg met his wife Bambou as that TV show wouldn't air until years later. Sfar has said this new version will be the one further released worldwide.
The life story of Serge Gainsbourg had to be filmed, and as he's one of the famous Frenchmen who aren't in fact Belgian, it's only a surprise that it took so long. That his life spanned the Nazi occupation to the rise of Disco would stretch credibility if this were fiction, but as it's all more or less true the director, who is already an accomplished graphic artist, manages to lift it to the level of slightly absurd fiction. Mixing in animation, self-consciously stagey sets and a life-sized puppet as Gainsbourg's dreaded alter ego.
Even the sordid lowlife is given the big treatment, and the early days in the garret look unashamedly glamorous as they would if re-imagined for an opera set or a Salvador Dali dream sequence, as director Joann Sfar lays it on with a trowel.
The episodic nature of the story gives it a rather patchy feel though, and I couldn't help thinking that one or two episodes, especially the cute Hollywood-style musical scene with Brigitte Bardot, could have been shorter. Bardot was just one of the high-profile women Gainsbourg captured, and so was the muse of the existentialists, Juliette Greco.The casting is pretty uncanny with the possible exception of Greco, who was never that model-thin.
Gainsbourg has always been, at least outside France, more famous for being cool than for his music. But his reworking of La Marseillaise which so upset the rightwing patriots of the Seventies was nothing but excellent. I'll go back just to hear that Sly and Robbie riddim one more time.
Quite a substantial feast but it's worth building up an appetite in advance. And of course, you get Jane Birkin and... That Song.
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