Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010) Poster

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)

  • Rate: 6.7/10 total 3,610 votes 
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | Music
  • Release Date: 20 January 2010 (France)
  • Runtime: 130 min | UK:122 min (recut version)
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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)


Gainsbourg A Heroic Life 2010tt1329457.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)
  • Rate: 6.7/10 total 3,610 votes 
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | Music
  • Release Date: 20 January 2010 (France)
  • Runtime: 130 min | UK:122 min (recut version)
  • Gross: $9,234,225(France)
  • Director: Joann Sfar
  • Stars: Eric Elmosnino, Lucy Gordon and Laetitia Casta
  • Original Music By: Olivier Daviaud   
  • Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: 1960s | Singer | Female Nudity | Composer | Fame

Writing Credits By:

  • Joann Sfar (graphic novel)
  • Joann Sfar  screenplay

Known Trivia

  • Lucy Gordon died when the film was in post production. This film is dedicated to her memory.
  • This film is based on director Joann Sfar’s graphic novel about Serge Gainsbourg. The opening animated titles are even drawn by him.
  • The project was originally envisioned with Serge Gainsbourg’s real life daughter, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg to play him in keeping with the film’s surreal and fairytale-esque tone. Six months into rehearsals and preparation Gainsbourg pulled out telling director Joann Sfar, it was proving to emotionally painful and he would have to make his “beautiful film” without her. Sfar had always approached the film with her in mind and was ready to abort the project when fate lead him to Eric Elmosnino.
  • The scene in the film where Serge Gainsbourg asks France Gall if she would like him to write her a ‘dirty song’ and then describes a song about a girl who loves sucking lollipops references the song “Les Sucettes” which he wrote for Gall in 1966. France Gall didn’t initially understand the lyric’s double-meanings and was appalled when it was pointed out after the song’s widespread popularity and still refuses to sing it to this day.
  • Laetitia Casta had a dance teacher for her sexy dance to Bardot’s song “Comic Strip”. She pointed out that the teacher was “a bit boring” and told director Joann Sfar she “needed no help in getting the audience a hard-on”.
  • 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.
  • This is not the first attempt to bring a film about the life of Serge Gainsbourg to the screen, but as of 2010 is the only one the family has permitted, due to Sfar’s fairytale take on Gainsbourg. Sfar revealed the family wanted to protect Gainsbourg’s secrets.
  • Last film that new wave director Claude Chabrol was ever involved in. He plays the record producer with a big cigar.

Goofs: Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): The young Gainsbourg is shown drawing left-handed, but the adult Gainsbourg becomes right-handed.

Plot: 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. |  »

Story: 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.

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Marc Du Pontavice known as producer
  • Matthew Gledhill known as supervising producer
  • Didier Lupfer known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Eric Elmosnino known as Serge Gainsbourg
  • Lucy Gordon known as Jane Birkin
  • Laetitia Casta known as Brigitte Bardot
  • Doug Jones known as La Gueule
  • Anna Mouglalis known as Juliette Gréco
  • Mylène Jampanoï known as Bambou
  • Sara Forestier known as France Gall
  • Kacey Mottet Klein known as Lucien Ginsburg
  • Razvan Vasilescu known as Joseph Ginsburg
  • Dinara Drukarova known as Olga Ginsburg (as Dinara Droukarova)
  • Philippe Katerine known as Boris Vian
  • Deborah Grall known as Elisabeth Levizky
  • Yolande Moreau known as Fréhel
  • Ophélia Kolb known as Le modèle
  • Claude Chabrol known as Le producteur musique de Gainsbourg
  • François Morel known as Le directeur de l'internat
  • Philippe Duquesne known as Lucky Sarcelles
  • Angelo Debarre known as Le guitariste gitan
  • Grégory Gadebois known as Phyphy (as Grégory Gadebois de la Comédie Française)
  • Alice Carel known as Judith
  • Joann Sfar known as Georges Brassens
  • Roger Mollien known as Le père de France Gall (as Roger Mollien de la Comédie Française)
  • Jean-Claude Camors known as Frère Jacques 1 (as Le Quatuor)
  • Laurent Vercambre known as Frère Jacques 2 (as Le Quatuor)
  • Pierre Ganem known as Frère Jacques 3 (as Le Quatuor)
  • Jean-Yves Lacombe known as Frère Jacques 4 (as Le Quatuor)
  • Arnaud Churin known as Le chef des pompiers
  • Guillaume Viry known as Ingénieur du son Jamaïque
  • Oliver Cywie known as Gosse internat 1 (as Olivier Cywie)
  • Vincent Colombe known as Flic Nazi Rock 1
  • Gilles Verlant known as Flic Nazi Rock 2
  • Pierre Brichese known as Le chauffeur de la Fleetwood (as Piero Brichese)
  • Jean-Pierre Gos known as Le responsable préfecture
  • Denis Falgoux known as L'employé préfecture
  • Franc Bruneau known as La planton Brochaut
  • Maurice Antoni known as Le directeur de l'orphelinat
  • Jacqueline Staup known as La dame rousse
  • Caroline Tillette known as La fille en rouge
  • Jérôme Chappatte known as Le commissaire-priseur
  • Marc Du Pontavice known as Policier Vian 1
  • Didier Lupfer known as Policier Vian 2
  • Chloé Coulloud known as Marilou, la coiffeuse
  • Lisa Jacobs known as La journaliste
  • Rosette known as La vendeuse confiserie
  • Stéphane Batut known as Le client cabaret Mme Arthur
  • Montse Ribé known as La Gueule (enfant)
  • Chloé Dumas known as Natalie Wood
  • Daniel Isoppo known as Journaliste France-Soir
  • Thomas Larsonnier known as Gosse internat 3
  • Laurent Levy known as Le musicien classique
  • Kevin Loubarere known as Gosse internat 2
  • Camille Lupfer known as La petite fille de la plage
  • Frédéric Mpampa known as Enfant jamaïcain 1
  • Jahmal Noel known as Enfant jamaïcain
  • Janyem Perrin-Cebin known as Enfant jamaïcain
  • Orphée Silard known as Charlotte Gainsbourg
  • Jeremy Vanhese known as L'imitateur
  • Lucile Vezier known as Kate
  • Gonzales known as Pianiste night-club (uncredited)
  • Mathias Malzieu known as Musicien Nazi Rock (uncredited)
  • Riad Sattouf known as Le petit modèle de Fréhel (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Laurence Boulet known as assistant hair stylist
  • Patrick Girault known as key hair stylist
  • Mathieu Gueracague known as hair stylist
  • Laetitia Hillion known as special makeup effects artist
  • Frédéric Lainé known as special makeup effects artist
  • David Martí known as special makeup effects artist
  • Anne Moralis known as wig maker
  • Gill Robillard known as key makeup artist
  • Myriam Roger known as additional hair stylist
  • Miguel Santos known as hair stylist
  • Floris Schuller known as special aging prosthetics: DDT Crew

Art Department:

  • Sophie Bégon known as assistant art director trainee
  • Maite Goblet known as second assistant art director
  • Frédéric Jourdan known as carpenter
  • Pascal Leguellec known as assistant art director
  • Jean Noviel known as roughman
  • Nicolas Raffy known as property master
  • Jochen Rohrig known as head carpenter
  • Julien Tesseraud known as carpenter




Production Companies:

  • One World Films (co-production)
  • Studio 37 (co-production)
  • Universal Pictures International (UPI) (co-production)
  • France 2 Cinéma (co-production)
  • Lilou Films (co-production)
  • Xilam (co-production) (as Xilam Films)
  • Uni Etoile 6 (in association with)
  • Canal+ (participation)
  • France Télévision (participation)
  • Orange Cinéma Séries (participation)
  • Région Ile-de-France (support)

Other Companies:

  • Bulgarian National Radio, Studio 1  music recorded at
  • Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra  string orchestra
  • Ensemble Pizzicati  mandolin orchestra
  • Intelligent Media  international monitoring agency
  • Madoro Music  music supervision
  • SIF309 Film & Music Productions  film score recording
  • SIF309 Film & Music Productions  music production services
  • SIF309 Film & Music Productions  orchestra contractor
  • Studio Acousti  music recorded at
  • Studio Pigalle  music recorded at
  • Studio de la Seine  music mixed at
  • Studio de la Seine  music recorded at
  • Studios Ferber  music recorded at


  • Universal Pictures International (UPI) (2010) (France) (theatrical)
  • Cinéart (2010) (Belgium) (theatrical)
  • Cinéart (2010) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Filmopolis (2010) (Greece) (theatrical)
  • Klock Worx Company, The (2011) (Japan) (theatrical)
  • Monopole-Pathé (2010) (Switzerland) (theatrical)
  • Music Box Films (2011) (USA) (theatrical) (subtitled)
  • Prokino Filmverleih (2010) (Germany) (theatrical)
  • Universal (2010) (France) (DVD) (also Blu-ray)
  • Zon Lusomundo Audiovisuais (2010) (Portugal) (all media)



Other Stuff

Visual Effects by:
  • Béatrice Bauwens known as visual effects coordinator
  • Nicolas Borens known as digital compositor
  • Julien Dias known as senior compositor
  • Cédric Fayolle known as visual effects supervisor
  • Damien Hurgon known as digital compositor
  • Luc Martias known as rotoscoping artist
  • François Masle known as digital compositor
  • François Masle known as roto artist

Release Date:

  • France 20 January 2010
  • Switzerland 20 January 2010 (French speaking region)
  • Belgium 3 February 2010
  • Netherlands 18 March 2010
  • Russia 18 March 2010
  • Australia 21 March 2010 (French Film Festival)
  • Canada 2 April 2010 (Québec)
  • Sweden 9 April 2010
  • Greece 15 April 2010 (Festival du Film Francophone)
  • Greece 22 April 2010
  • Switzerland 22 April 2010 (German speaking region)
  • USA 23 April 2010 (Tribeca Film Festival)
  • USA 27 April 2010 (San Francisco International Film Festival)
  • Denmark 29 April 2010
  • Poland 21 May 2010
  • France 21 June 2010 (Agde Film Festival)
  • Spain 8 July 2010
  • Ireland 30 July 2010
  • UK 30 July 2010
  • Finland 16 September 2010 (Helsinki International Film Festival)
  • Finland 24 September 2010
  • Brazil 25 September 2010 (Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival)
  • Kazakhstan 25 September 2010
  • Germany 30 September 2010 (Hamburg Film Festival)
  • Germany 14 October 2010
  • Portugal 21 October 2010
  • Brazil 22 October 2010 (São Paulo International Film Festival)
  • Austria 29 October 2010
  • Israel 4 November 2010
  • Estonia 17 December 2010
  • USA 11 January 2011 (Palm Springs Internation Film Festival)
  • Japan 21 May 2011
  • Italy 17 June 2011 (Biografilm Festival)
  • Brazil 8 July 2011
  • USA 31 August 2011 (limited)
  • Philippines 17 November 2011 (Cinemanila International Film Festival)



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , .


  1. colin_coyne from London
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    GAINSBOURG (Vie héroïque) … from the Studio Canal stable depicts thelife story of Serge Gainsbourg from early childhood in the 1930's and40's, until just before his death in 1991.

    Born Lucien Ginsburg – and as an impressionable youth he felt outcastas being a Jewish child in Nazi occupied Paris in the 1940's – leadinghim to develop an imaginary friend who adopted an increasinglygrotesque caricature / persona of himself that would lead him on to domore and more outrageous things to "rebel" his situation and to attemptto gain an element of "love" and "acceptance" from his notoriety.

    A talented musician and artist, Lucien (who later was persuaded byfriends to change his name to the more "acceptable" Serge Gainsbourg)became the darling of the social scene, charming his way through asuccession of affairs with beautiful women – most notably BrigitteBardot, Juliette Greco, and Jane Birkin.

    I'm surprised that they didn't have a cigarette company sponsoring thismovie – as the sheer amount of fags smoked during this film must besome sort of record!

    After the showing of the film (at the Cineworld, Haymarket, London) wewere treated to a Question and Answer session with the Writer /Director of this movie JOANN SFAR, who explained that the idea for thefilm came from his own graphic novel on Serge Gainsbourg penned byJOANN SFAR – and this pretty much formed the construct and ambiance ofthe movie – it is highly graphical and visual in it's content – much ofit being fantasy visions and flashbacks within Gainsbourg's mind.Talking from the heart – Joann showed a real passion for the film, andwas very open as to how the film was created.

    Gainsbourg became the darling of French society with his talent andflair – but he also would court scandal and became infamous for therelease of "Je t'aime… moi non plus" (which he originally wrote forBardot) and the seemingly disrespectful reggae version of the Frenchnational anthem "La Marseillaise", but love him or loath him – youcouldn't ignore him ..

    The whole movie is very atmospheric, and some of the casting of thisfilm was inspired – especially the terrific performances by EricElmosnini in the title role, the stunning beautiful Laetitia Casta asBrigitte Bardot, Lucy Gordon as Jane Birkin, Anna Mouglalis as JulietteGreco and Kacey Mottet Klein as the young Lucien Ginsburg.

    At the end credits of the film is a dedication "to Lucy" which referredto the actress Lucy Gordon – who (the director explained) played thepart of Jane Birkin in the film – and who had tragically committedsuicide 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 GAINSBOURGwill not be everyone's cup of tea … but the film DOES keep youentertained and if you give it a chance, I'm sure that you will not bedisappointed …

    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

  2. george karpouzas
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    I did watch this film in it's premiere in Athens, at the festival ofFranchophone films.I liked the movie which incorporated many surrealand fantasy elements in the linear narrative of the life of the hero.He had an alter ego, which was the substantiation of a childhoodfantasy which always tried to tempt him to follow the broad path thatled to riches, fame, sex and power. He followed the advice of his evilother self and he became the public icon we know from history and themedia. Emphasis is also given to his Jewishness and his courage tomanifest it before collaborationist authorities as a young boy.

    Excepting the marked surreal elements which the director in anintroductory speech attributed to the fact that he is also a comicstrip creator, the film emphasizes what we already know, that is hisincessant womanizing, publicity seeking and studied provocative stance,culminating in his memorable if controversial rendering of theMarselleise-the French national anthem-in a reggae music version and arefrain that was full of irony.

    The sometimes overemphasized description of his rampant sexuality drovesome of the audience out of the theatre as did the depiction of hisreggae version of the French national anthem. But this was obviously anoverreaction due either to ignorance or desire to cut a figure. If youhad the slightest idea of who Gainsbourgh was, you would not beexpecting anything else from a movie dedicated to his life story.

    Because Gainsbough was prone to the pleasures of the flesh with womenfamous or ordinary, many impressive actresses such as Laetitia Castaand Anna Muglalis appear in the movie portraying the gorgeous women hehad affairs with. The whole impression you form is that he had been aanti-authoritarian bobo(bourgeois-Boheme) before this term had beeninvented.

    There is also a sensitive depiction of his relationship with hisparents, which was closer and more intimate than one would expect froma man who had such an obvious (real or affected) grudge towardsauthority.The actresses play convincingly the women of his life, whowere glamorous and sexy. In the end one is left with the questionwhether such a life is enviable and worthy of emulation or example toavoid. whichever answer each one reaches, as a spectacle it is surelyinteresting to see.

  3. Kristine Giluce from France
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    A film, concentrating on the personality of the composer-singer. Anicon of twentieth century, not only for France, but to whole Europe,perhaps even to the whole Occidental world. Basically, this work ofJoann Sfar is based onto the the most remarkable points of Gainsbourg'slife, and that is, oh, so comprehensible, because otherwise we'd have afilm of five hours or more, nevertheless the two hours and twentyminutes seem already sufficient. And maybe even more than that.

    This interpretation of Serge Gainsbourgs' life is a work of flamingcolors; of ambiances which change periodically with the passage oftime, ups and downs of Serge's life. At the end, regarding on all themilieus seen, we realize not only the length of the film, but as wellthe rapid cultural changes in France of twentieth century.

    Pursuing on that, Sfar starts leading the spectator on a guided tourcalled ''Serge's life''. It starts from the forties when France wasbearing the heavy weight of German occupation – this is where RussianJewish boy called Lucien Ginsburg grows up. Though, it is funny, thatin this part of movie, we can find all the stereotypes of France, inparticularly Paris, for which the rest of the world keeps going madeven nowadays. Let's see, here we have the artistic ambiances ofMonmartre, very similar to those of Belle Époque, bohemian to the bone- the cozy cafés, femmes fatales, chanson française and so on… Thismovie couldn't be seen as a real biography, starting already with thesmall phantasms in a form of giant head of a Jewish man who comes outof a Nazi poster to play and dance with little Lucien. It is the sameboy, who later imagines La Gueule, a caricatured idol of himself in thechildhood, but a big, fat ego and an exteriorized inner voice, duringthe adult life.

    Already as a kid, he is a real charmer, an artist with multipletalents, seducing everyone around him. With the time passing thiscapacity of seduction becomes more and more sexual. It grows ingeometrical progression until we meet (very intimately) BrigitteBardot, the sex symbol of the time. We possibly couldn't denie thatLaetitia Casta not only resembles very much to the authentic goddess ofthe time. She does give some quite authentic elements of Bardot'sperformance in Vadim's Et Dieu Créa La Femme. When dating BrigitteBardot, Lucien Ginsbourg is already long gone, it's now the eccentric,successful and famous Serge Gainsbourg. The self convinced type, alwayswith a cigarette in the corner of his lips. Sfar realizes very well,that the "best-seller" of the Gainsbourg appearances is his profileview, which, no-one in nowadays' Europe would never mistake. Perhaps,it is also that the man who plays Gainsbourg. Eric Elmosnino, from thispoint of view does not look like himself, but like his portrayedcharacter. Stunning resemblance! And we can find a short reference toAntonioni's Blow-Up. It is the iconic image of Jane Birkin, wearingnothing but bright colored stockings.

    Being this far, it is not difficult to see that the main leading powersof Gainsbourg's fame were… his talent and the charming troublemakers' appearances. Sfar's film has depicted them both. More, thepresence of the phantasms and loud spoken dialogs with his inner him –La Gueule, points at the will to make this movie a bit different from asimple telling of a biography (assuming, that a large number alreadyknows it). But still, I'd like to say that it is not enough to makethis film a real masterpiece. The linearity is a little bit boring, andafter the first half of the movie has been seen, you might want tocheck your watch. This is an unstoppable rolling towards the end, theonly limit of the man – the end. But cinema has such wonderfulpossibilities to play with reality and even time, so why could we nothave a little bit more interesting way of telling this exciting story?This makes the movie a bit plain, even with such wonderful and detailedwork on visual elements.

    The music? I guess it is inutile to say what kind and whose music wehear in the film. The relations between the music and images are welldone, they illustrate time and place and whispers how Serge is doing.Whether you like it or not, it is already another question…

  4. dromasca from Herzlya, Israel
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    Where does this amazing film come from? Who is Joann Sfar, a director Inever heard about before? The easiest answer at hand was the wikipediaentry which tells us that Sfar is a well known comics author in thefabulous French-Belgian tradition. He is of Jewish origin, and his nextfilm is an adaptation of one of his comics successes called The Rabbi'sCat.

    And suddenly all makes sense. The opening scenes of the film containthe key of the biography of French musician and poet Serge Gainsbourgas imagined by Sfar. We see Lucien Ginzburg, a Jewish kid in occupiedParis during WWII daring not only to laugh in fronde at the nose of thecollaborationist police by being the first in line to receive hisyellow Star of David as a sign of nobility rather than an anathema, butmoreover, to transform in his mind and his sketch drawings the fatrapacious Jew on the Vichy posters in the thin, stylish, long nose andbig years Gueule – the alter-ego who will guide his steps and feed hisrevenging self-confidence for the rest of his life.

    The combination of acting and cartoon is not a new thing, but it hasnever been tried before in a biopic to the best of my knowledge. Sure,it is not the usual respectful biopic but it's the vision of Sfar aboutGinzburg – Gainsbourg, and Sfar he says in the final text before thecredits was more interested about Gainsbourg lies than by his perceivedtruths. Moreover, for sure Gainsbourg himself would not haveappreciated a respectful film. Ironically under-titled 'Vie heroique'(heroic life) the film takes us though the artistic and especiallywomanizing career of Gainsbourg from the early 50s to the late 70s. Wesee him in the company of such French cultural icon as Boris Vian andespecially of fabulous women such as Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardotand Jane Birkin (and actually the list in the film is very partial). Ienjoyed each of the scenes in this part of the film which combinestyle, attention to details (just follow how fashion changes markingthe progress of time) and deep understanding of the atmosphere of theParisian clubs and artistic milieu in the mythic mid-20 century. HisGueule alter-ego mentors him though this trip and when he decides torenounce his patronizing, it's the beginning of the end – the charismagoes away and the effects of his excesses slowly destroy him. Maybe alittle more of his art would have provided an even more complex andbalanced image of the person that Gainsbourg was – this would be myonly observation.

    The choice of Eric Elmosnino as Gainsbourg is excellent, he drives thecharacter from the insecurity of the young age to the decay of the end,all the time with charm and deep empathy. He proves a perfectunderstanding of the intentions of the director and a fullidentification with the identity dilemmas of the French-JewishGainsbourg. Laetitia Casta is a perfect replica of Bardot. Lucy Gordonis mastering very well Jane Birkin's role. Her maturity makes evenharder to explain the suicide of the young actress a few days beforethe film was presented in avant-premiere at Cannes.

  5. Cliff Hanley from United Kingdom
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    The life story of Serge Gainsbourg had to be filmed, and as he's one ofthe famous Frenchmen who aren't in fact Belgian, it's only a surprisethat it took so long. That his life spanned the Nazi occupation to therise of Disco would stretch credibility if this were fiction, but asit's all more or less true the director, who is already an accomplishedgraphic artist, manages to lift it to the level of slightly absurdfiction. Mixing in animation, self-consciously stagey sets and alife-sized puppet as Gainsbourg's dreaded alter ego.

    Even the sordid lowlife is given the big treatment, and the early daysin the garret look unashamedly glamorous as they would if re-imaginedfor an opera set or a Salvador Dali dream sequence, as director JoannSfar 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 thecute Hollywood-style musical scene with Brigitte Bardot, could havebeen shorter. Bardot was just one of the high-profile women Gainsbourgcaptured, and so was the muse of the existentialists, JulietteGreco.The casting is pretty uncanny with the possible exception ofGreco, who was never that model-thin.

    Gainsbourg has always been, at least outside France, more famous forbeing cool than for his music. But his reworking of La Marseillaisewhich so upset the rightwing patriots of the Seventies was nothing butexcellent. I'll go back just to hear that Sly and Robbie riddim onemore time.

    Quite a substantial feast but it's worth building up an appetite inadvance. And of course, you get Jane Birkin and… That Song.

  6. TheGord1488 from United Kingdom
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    As an Englishman I didn't have as much of an idea of Serge Gs career asmost of the previous critics here, so a lot of this film was prettyeducational. However, it wasn't a literal biopic by any means, usingthe cartoon characters alongside Serge (quite well, I thought) and thelatter half of his life (I didn't realise when or whether he'd dieduntil 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 generaliconoclast a bit similar to the film "Mesrine" which came out a year ortwo back – a similar time period was covered in that – masses of smokeand sexism! The actresses playing Jane Birkin and Juliette Greco aregood (especially Jane Bs English/French accent) but "Brigitte Bardot"less so, and the scenes with her do go on a bit (although some of theposes are meant to correspond with real Bardot roles like "Et Dieu CreaLa Femme" and "La Mepris".

    The music fits in well with the film and, surprisingly – with the filmmaking style – the intrusion of early 1960s loud pop, and of reggae, isquite a shock to the system, as it is intended to be, and was at thetime. Perhaps I'm missing some of the French references, but in generalthe milieu Gainsbourg moved in might not be best served by a "straight"biopic with a Nicholas Cage-type performance, but the surrealistcartoons 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 precociousyoung boy stage of his life either – a bit too "that's the French wayboys grow up" all very pre-Simone de Beauvoir.

    Anyway shouldn't carp too long – I was glad I saw it and a lot willstay with me, although I'll remember the Django-type guitar playingpossibly longer than the (apparently rather few) Gainsbourg songs whichgraced the soundtrack.

  7. the_rattlesnake25 from Sheffield, UK
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    Lucien 'Serge Gainsbourg' Ginsburg. Artist. Writer. Performer.Alcoholic. Smoker. Rebel. Womanizer. Genius? Joann Sfar's filmdocuments the sporadic lifestyle of the famous French artist SergeGainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino), whose life contained no boundaries, noobjects off limit, and continually tested the patience of those huddledtogether around him. Beginning with a young Gainsbourg developing histaste for painting aspiring models in Nazi-Occupied France as a mereteenager, the film thereupon concentrates primarily upon hisrelationships with various beautiful women and his life choices inregards to his ever-changing occupation over his sixty-year-life-span.

    What makes this film work so well as a biopic is the truly ingeniousperformances by both Kacey Mottet Klein (Young Gainsbourg) and EricElmosnino (Adult Gainsbourg) who both somewhat beautifully representsuch a tragic figure throughout his whole on-screen lifetime. Kaceyportrays Gainsbourg as a boy who is maturing faster than those otherchildren around him, so far so, that he explains to one of theschoolchildren the reason that he is good at drawing pubic hairs isbecause he has had an up-close and personal experience with thembefore. While he is also shown to be a lonely child, an outcast asJewish child growing up in Nazi-Occupied France, and thus he developsan affable 'imaginary friend' to keep himself company. Born as small,soft head that watches over young Gainsbourg as he sleeps in the woodsto avoid the Nazi soldiers, his only friend soon becomes his worstenemy as he matures into a complicated man. His once pleasant'imaginary friend' is now a grotesque being with a large nose,long-thin fingers and an affection for cigarettes and bullyingGainsbourg. He continually berates insults, prods and engages Serge,providing the viewpoint that he himself was his harshest critic, and acritic he could not simply dismiss without entire control over hislife.

    Aside from the performances, the way Sfar allows the films narrative toflow in a temporal manner with no mention of time, or calendar dates,further draws the audience in to Gainsbourg's contrived world. The onlyway to tell when an event shifts forward in his lifetime, is throughhis own physical deterioration from old age which is heavily dictatedby his excessive abuse of alcohol and tobacco. But as Gainsbourgbecomes older, his sexual conquests stay the same age; from Elisabeth(Deborah Grall), to Jane (the late Lucy Gordon), and to an affair withthe insatiable Brigitte Bardot (Laetitia Casta), before he eventuallysettles down with Bambou (Mylene Jampanoi), who would be his finalpartner. These are all young, vulnerable women who Gainsbourg exploitsfor his own sexual misgivings, and once they become too old, or tooboring, he discards them like a child throwing away an old toy tobadger his parents for a new, more expensive model.

    Joann Sfar beautifully flowing biopic paints Serge Gainsbourg as ashallow, misogynistic, grumpy old man, who once had dreams of becomingfamous for doing anything, but once those dreams were realised, greedand narcissism triumphed over his once forgotten ambitions. Utilizinghis gift for writing, artistry and music Gainsbourg chose the route ofcontroversy and scandal over that of happiness and family, which isexemplified in his response to the media after he had a heart attack.When the reporters asked what he will be doing now after such adangerous and life threatening operation, Gainsbourg calmly asserted tothose in attendance that he will "continue to smoke many morecigarettes and drink much more alcohol."

  8. angus-logan from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    This is a film that makes no bones about the ultimate squandering ofSerge Gainsbourg's talents in a drink – induced decline but at the sametime shows the creative and cultural force that his very surname stillbrings to mind for most French people . The movie brings outparticularly well the smoky atmosphere of jazz clubs and gigs where theyoung Serge first plied his musicality in the 1950s. The phases of hislife, from young Jewish boy in occupied France through his creativelife and personal life ( for instance )amours with such as BrigitteBardot and Jane Birkin in the 1960s are dizzily but effectively handled. There is some attempt by Director Sfar to portray Gainsbourg , inlate career , as something of an anti- intolerance man of principle butthe overall impression given is of an imaginative , somewhat amoralfigure whose life was ultimately an example of artistic decline andhedonistic self-indulgence . The film is rather long but, overall ,sustains interest well . The main roles are all played well by theactors ,including the female leads Laetitia Casta and the late LucyGordon , and the cartoon – like features of the movie , such as Serge'sgiant alter-ego , impressionistically contribute something positive tothe story . Viewers from Anglophone countries who will best rememberGainsbourg as the singing half of the 1969 heavy- breathing pop hit "Je t'aime moi non plus " may still leave the cinema wondering whatreally was the artistic importance of Serge . Yet they will nonetheless, on the strength of this bio-pic , carry away an image of theprincipal character as an unforgettable personality .French people , onthe other hand , who already regard him as a cultural icon and , intheir terms ,as a genius will not need this movie to make up theirminds about Serge Gainsbourg .

  9. ihrtfilms from Australia
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    Serge Gainsbourg was many things: an artist, writer, painter, alcoholicand lover to many. He is a fascinating man who lead a fascinating lifeand director Joann Sfar makes a great effort here to portray it all.From the early days prior to WWII Gainsbourg was clearly going toamount to something. As he grew older and dabbled here and there invarious art forms and dabbled in various women with lovers includingBridgette Bardot and Jane Birkin. Yet as he grew older Gainsbourgdabbled 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 andideas abounding. Yet as the film progressed I felt less and lessconcerned by this man and began wondering when the film might end. Asinteresting he was, he was also not the nicest of characters,especially in his latter years when he appears to be a drunk and grumpyman. The little touches of fantasy work well to begin with,Gainsbourg's 'imaginary friend' is interesting, but then becomes moreand more grotesque and yet more annoying and often blurs the linebetween realism and surrealism.

    Ultimately this has enough to provide an interesting account of someonewho had a very full life, but for me it lost it's way part way throughand therefore lost it's momentum.

    More of my reviews at

  10. herbigame from Germany
    30 Mar 2012, 1:05 am

    ###### Might contain spoilers ######### I personally found theportrayal of decay one of the most impressive features in the movie.The character's fall naturally depicts the transition of thehaute-couture from the war-years, which was yet a reminiscence ofGolden Era, yet with a little less social exclusion, towards thechaotic and disturbing culture the re-building process in the post-waryears.

    You can see it first in the transition of the protagonist's manners,which change from subliminally provocative in childhood towards openlyironic during the time spent with Brigitte Bardot – every attempt toremain sincere and "ernst" during this time must have been felt as afacre – , towards unreflected vulgar anti-everything proclamations yousee in the re-make of the sex-driven song and the years after.

    Also, you can see it in the changing clothing, which slowly progressesand finally finds its point of no return when Gainsborg finds hisBritish wife. First of all, it's the inter-national coupling, which ofcourse introduces compromises on all sides, and which also makes himsend away his visage, which is basically a symbol of his geniusoverall. What he sends away is the normed cultural knowledge he gainedas an aspiring French intellectual. Accepting to embrace the then moreinter-national culture, he becomes basically a perverse anti-hero whichresembles the Proustian portray of Bloch. While he learns andtranscends the inter-disciplinary approach towards the new culture, hebecomes a torn-apart individual and ultimately an outsider for both theFrench and the British society, in which he lives, becoming truly aninternational cultural outlaw. (The first hint at his outlaw status isthe rejection of his song written for Brigitte) So, his clothes changetowards what you would think a typical drug-addicted rock-n-roll staroutfit and has not the slightest scent of culture and style left. Heresembles a little bit the latest pictures found on Dylan.

    But most interestingly is the attempt to relate this final breakdownwith the his experience of WW2, something that is dominantly present inthe scenes where he performs the Marseillese. You see thatsubconsciously, he still is haunted by his past, and while hisembracement of earlier haute-couture allowed him to feel at home and atpeace somehow with his country and intellectual background, theemergence of a new form of pop culture – loud clubs where electronicmusic is played, an Asian looking girl friend, a ton of Garbage art onhis estate -, you can see that this last piece of hope and divinity,which he found in the art of chanson writing, falls apart and leaveshim with nothing left than ruins.

    The entire biopic hence deals somehow with the cultural breakdown ofthe entire society due to the rebuilding process of post-war Europe,and the massive dilution of cultural products across borders, and theend of self-consciousness it introduces with itself.

    The last dignity, initially spared by the war experience and conservedin the intellectual networks of Paris, vanishes. And even worse, heprobably experienced to have contributed to this mess. When the Asianlooking girl comes straight to the point asking if he wanted to "fuck"her, while he was still trying to frame his intentions more elaboratelyas a gentleman, he must have ultimately realized that everything wasover. He was not even part of the outlaw movement anymore. He was justsome random individual that was perceived as following its most primalinstincts. At that point, he say "NO. Don't you dare to leave." Anotherpoint of no return.

    Yes, because there he was. An alcoholic, post-intellectual and vulgarindividual. What was left to do, but to escape everything and forgetabout what he once deemed important by making another baby and becominga family man after all. The rage and violence have vanished in thefinal scenes, simply because anything that he could rage about wasdead.

    Apart from that, as already mentioned, the film was catchy, atmosphericand somewhat epic.

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