SIFF 2011: Gainsbourg: a Heroic Life *1/2

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 28, 2011)

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Well…it was intriguing on paper.

So who was Serge Gainsbourg? He was a so-so painter, questionable poet and inexplicable pop music icon (well, in France). Nonetheless, he apparently was quite the babe magnet (he bedded Bardot and wedded English supermodel Jane Birkin, the latter with with whom he co-created his Greatest Hit-the talented Charlotte Gainsbourg).

His music career was largely built on the success of one tune-“Je t’aime…moi non plus”, featuring Birkin essentially feigning an orgasm at the denouement, over an organ riff suspiciously similar to “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (surely paving the way for future seduction mix tape staples like “Love to Love You Baby” and “Jungle Fever”).

Star Eric Elmosnino bears an uncanny resemblance and chain-smokes Gitanes with conviction, but director Joann Sfar seems more enamored with his own cinematic technique than with his subject; it’s an impressionistic study that barely makes any impression at all.

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