Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life
is a movie starring
Eric Elmosnino, Lucy Gordon, and Laetitia Casta.
A glimpse at the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, from growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris through his successful song-writing years in the 1960s to his death in 1991 at the age of 62.
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
As an Englishman I didn't have as much of an idea of Serge Gs career as most of the previous critics here, so a lot of this film was pretty educational. However, it wasn't a literal biopic by any means, using the cartoon characters alongside Serge (quite well, I thought) and the latter half of his life (I didn't realise when or whether he'd died until I'd read one of your reviewers!) seemed to tail off into nothing, even more than his increasing physical degradation was suggesting.
I found the emphasis on his sexual groundbreaking and role as a general iconoclast a bit similar to the film "Mesrine" which came out a year or two back - a similar time period was covered in that - masses of smoke and sexism! The actresses playing Jane Birkin and Juliette Greco are good (especially Jane Bs English/French accent) but "Brigitte Bardot" less so, and the scenes with her do go on a bit (although some of the poses are meant to correspond with real Bardot roles like "Et Dieu Crea La Femme" and "La Mepris".
The music fits in well with the film and, surprisingly - with the film making style - the intrusion of early 1960s loud pop, and of reggae, is quite a shock to the system, as it is intended to be, and was at the time. Perhaps I'm missing some of the French references, but in general the milieu Gainsbourg moved in might not be best served by a "straight" biopic with a Nicholas Cage-type performance, but the surrealist cartoons do detract from the picture we get of Serge - and believe me, it's not that easy to like him! I wasn't that keen on the precocious young boy stage of his life either - a bit too "that's the French way boys grow up" all very pre-Simone de Beauvoir.
Anyway shouldn't carp too long - I was glad I saw it and a lot will stay with me, although I'll remember the Django-type guitar playing possibly longer than the (apparently rather few) Gainsbourg songs which graced the soundtrack.
11 of 15 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this