Starring: Eric Elmosnino, Lucy Gordon, Laetitia Casta, Doug Jones, Anna Mouglalis, Sara Forestier
Directed by: Joann Sfar
Synopsis: A glimpse at the life of the French singer Serge Gainsbourg, from growing up in 1940s Nazi occupied Paris through his successful songwriting years in the 1960s to his death in 1991 at the age of 62.
To carry on my love of all things French, I finally managed to watch this biopic about perhaps the most famous French musician of all.
Directed by Joann Sfar, using his own graphic novel as a source, this film mixes your typical rock biopic tropes with some surrealist fantasy elements to create something quite far removed from the likes of Walk The Line and Ray. It starts in Nazi occupied Paris with Serge as the young Lucien Ginsberg. His father makes him play piano despite his protestations, and he is extremely aware of his ‘features’. He creates imaginary friends that are grotesque caricatures of himself and uses these to get where he wants to be. They are his confident alter ego and are played fantastically by Doug Jones.
As we move in to the adult world, Lucien has changed his name to Serge Gainsbourg and become something of a hit maker for various artists, including France Gall who was a big teeny bop star in France at the time, until Gainsbourg tricked her into singing a song about the joys of oral sex. Gall’s career never recovered. Gainsbourg’s went from strength to strength. Despite his looks, he managed to get amorous with numerous glamorous women in his time, not least Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot and most famously Jane Birkin.
The movie covers most of Serge’s career, and he is played fantastically well by Eric Elmosnino who is basically his doppelgänger. He convinces 100%, with his louche, womanising style, always smoking and drinking. Some of the sixties scenes with Bardot (Laetitia Casta) and Birkin (played by the late Lucy Gordon) are cool and playful. The film maybe slips into a typical rock biopic a bit towards the end, but is never uneventful and always interesting because of the surreal elements to it. Plus you get to hear loads of classic Serge Gainsbourg tunes, what’s not to like.
The only reason it loses marks is because my wife only agreed to watch it if I shave my beard off AND watch Gone With The Wind on the weekend.