Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life Joann Sfar

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life Joann Sfar
Trying to sift through the legend of Serge Gainsbourg is no small task. In France, the man is considered a demigod, a raconteur of astounding wit who changed the face of music. Here in North America, he's viewed more as a drunk lothario whose musical output conjures images of a triple-x Leonard Cohen. As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, not that Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life makes any effort to reconcile myth from man. Made in France, director Joann Sfar (who also wrote the graphic novel on which the film is based) includes the quote "Gainsbourg transcends reality. I much prefer his lies to his truths" at the end of the film, making it abundantly clear which side of the divide he falls on. The film follows the usual biopic formula, showing key moments from the singer's life. He grew up Jewish in Nazi-occupied France, becoming a disenchanted painter before following his songwriting muse. Along the way, he romances a number of high profile women, Juliette Gréco, Bridget Bardot and Jane Birkin among them. Throughout the movie, Sfar shows how at odds Gainsbourg was with himself, showing a grotesque caricature following him throughout his life, questioning his decisions. Some terrific performances from Kacey Mottet Klein as the young Lucien Ginsburg (his real name) and Eric Elmosnino as the adult one carry the film, along with Gainsbourg's genuinely interesting life story, as he bounces from woman to woman, encountering some of twentieth century France's most influential figures (Fréhel, Dali). In terms of extras, the DVD includes the usual deleted scenes and making-of featurettes. Although occasionally funny, ultimately there is very little to elevate Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life beyond the level of run-of-the-mill biopic. (Seville)