Born Lucien Ginsburg – and as an impressionable youth he felt outcast as being a Jewish child in Nazi occupied Paris in the 1940's – leading him to develop an imaginary friend who adopted an increasingly grotesque caricature / persona of himself that would lead him on to do more and more outrageous things to "rebel" his situation and to attempt to gain an element of "love" and "acceptance" from his notoriety.
A talented musician and artist, Lucien (who later was persuaded by friends to change his name to the more "acceptable" Serge Gainsbourg) became the darling of the social scene, charming his way through a succession of affairs with beautiful women – most notably Brigitte Bardot, Juliette Greco, and Jane Birkin.
I'm surprised that they didn't have a cigarette company sponsoring this movie – as the sheer amount of fags smoked during this film must be some sort of record!
After the showing of the film (at the Cineworld, Haymarket, London) we were treated to a Question and Answer session with the Writer / Director of this movie JOANN SFAR, who explained that the idea for the film came from his own graphic novel on Serge Gainsbourg penned by JOANN SFAR – and this pretty much formed the construct and ambiance of the movie – it is highly graphical and visual in it's content – much of it being fantasy visions and flashbacks within Gainsbourg's mind. Talking from the heart – Joann showed a real passion for the film, and was very open as to how the film was created.
Gainsbourg became the darling of French society with his talent and flair – but he also would court scandal and became infamous for the release of "Je t'aime... moi non plus" (which he originally wrote for Bardot) and the seemingly disrespectful reggae version of the French national anthem "La Marseillaise", but love him or loath him – you couldn't ignore him ..
The whole movie is very atmospheric, and some of the casting of this film was inspired – especially the terrific performances by Eric Elmosnini in the title role, the stunning beautiful Laetitia Casta as Brigitte Bardot, Lucy Gordon as Jane Birkin, Anna Mouglalis as Juliette Greco and Kacey Mottet Klein as the young Lucien Ginsburg.
At the end credits of the film is a dedication "to Lucy" which referred to the actress Lucy Gordon – who (the director explained) played the part of Jane Birkin in the film – and who had tragically committed suicide during the final editing parts of the film – a talented actress – and a sad loss.
At 2 hours 10mins long, in French with English subtitles GAINSBOURG will not be everyone's cup of tea but the film DOES keep you entertained and if you give it a chance, I'm sure that you will not be disappointed ...
It's not big or clever to smoke, and it doesn't make you look cool unless you happen to be Serge Gainsbourg !
GAINSBOURG is on general release from 30th July 2010