Gainsbourg [Vie Heroique]

"Good"

Gainsbourg [Vie Heroique] Review


Bristling with invention, this fast and full-on biopic of French superstar Serge Gainsbourg is rather too stylish, mashing fantasy with real events to the point that we're never sure where the truth lies. But it's eye-catching filmmaking.


Lucien Ginsburg (Mottet-Klein) was born to Jewish parents (Vasilescu and Droukarova) and, after surviving the Nazi occupation, studied art and music.

It's his skill at songwriting that propels him to stardom. Now known as Serge Gainsbourg (Elmosnino), he goes through two marriages, two children and a passionate late-1960s affair with Brigitte Bardot (Casta) before falling in love with the young British actress Jane Birkin (Gordon) and then the model Bambou (Jampanoi). His increasingly manic behaviour, fuelled by alcohol, sabotages his relationships even as it adds fire to his work.


Springing from his own comic-strip about Gainsbourg, filmmaker Sfar infuses the film with Jonze/Gondry-style visual trickery. This lushly crowded movie is a riot of clever camera angles, animation, effects work and puppetry, all bringing Gainsbourg's imagination to life. Sfar creates a pointy spectre called La Gueule (Jones) who follows Gainsbourg through life, spurring him to artistic and personal excess like a demonic muse in contrast to the more angelic Bardot, Birkin and Bambou.

This is a visually intriguing idea, but even as we understand the point quickly, Sfar keeps this up for two tiring hours. Fortunately, the actors are extremely good, especially from a casting perspective: none of them needs an introduction since they look uncannily like the person they're playing. And Elmosnino gives a surprisingly engaging performance, managing to make Gainsbourg likeable and magnetic even while indulging in his worst behaviour.


Although this is where Sfar's indulgence becomes distracting, because Gainsbourg's story is genuinely gripping, and we want to see it more clearly, without the strange omissions (no mention at all of his filmmaking career) and fantastical asides. This is a bright child who struggled to find his voice and then to keep the creative juices flowing. And his legacy, from the breathy classic Je T'Aime ... Moi Non Plus to his gifted daughter Charlotte, is much more iconic than this film suggests. Frankly, despite a good effort, one movie can't contain him.




Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Production compaines: France 2 Cinéma, Studio 37, One World Films, Universal Pictures International (UPI), Lilou Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Joann Sfar

Producer: , Joann Sfar

Starring: as Serge Gainsbourg, as Jane Birkin, as Brigette Bardot, as Juliette Greco, as La gueule, as Boris Vian, as Fréhel, as Bambou, as France Gall

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.