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
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.
Diane and I had much the same opinion of this film: we thought that it was far too mannered for our taste and that the substance of this man's life could have been presented, directionally, more staid. During the film I kept thinking of Baz Luhmann's Moulin Rouge, another movie that was too mannered. It just goes to show how much people's taste varies because I sat through the movie and left wondering what I had seen; what was all the fuss about? I did not find out much of substance about the guy or his background or sequential events in his life. As a viewer, if you are looking for a minor biographical look at this man's life then buy a book. If on the other hand you don't mind seeing a Picassoesque rendering of Serge Gainsbourg's life then this movie is for you—enjoy!
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