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
Originally the last act of the film was to feature Serge Gainsbourg in his grotesque style continuing from his scene in the hairdressers. The film's producers said this would lose the audience and advised against it. See more »
The young Gainsbourg is shown drawing left-handed, but the adult Gainsbourg becomes right-handed. 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.
Serge Gainsbourg was many things: an artist, writer, painter, alcoholic and lover to many. He is a fascinating man who lead a fascinating life and director Joann Sfar makes a great effort here to portray it all. From the early days prior to WWII Gainsbourg was clearly going to amount to something. As he grew older and dabbled here and there in various art forms and dabbled in various women with lovers including Bridgette Bardot and Jane Birkin. Yet as he grew older Gainsbourg dabbled in more drink and drugs and this led to a troubled life.
I was to begin with fascinated by this man, full of charm and wit and ideas abounding. Yet as the film progressed I felt less and less concerned by this man and began wondering when the film might end. As interesting he was, he was also not the nicest of characters, especially in his latter years when he appears to be a drunk and grumpy man. The little touches of fantasy work well to begin with, Gainsbourg's 'imaginary friend' is interesting, but then becomes more and more grotesque and yet more annoying and often blurs the line between realism and surrealism.
Ultimately this has enough to provide an interesting account of someone who had a very full life, but for me it lost it's way part way through and therefore lost it's momentum.
More of my reviews at iheartfilms.weebly.com
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