Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
A quintessential French icon gets his big- screen bio. In the 60s, singer Serge Gainsbourg mixed pop outlawry with low-down lechery to blaze his own hipster manifesto, seducing Brigitte Bardot, Juliette Gréco and Jane Birkin in the process. Persistent iconoclasm and highly visible personal degeneracy made him a fixture in French public life until his death in 1991. The simulated female orgasm performed by Jane Birkin in his song ‘Je t’aime…moi non plus’ may have brought him the most attention internationally, and ‘Lemon Incest’, recorded with their daughter Charlotte, still causes many a jaw to drop, but it was his reggae version of their national anthem that proved the step too far for many of his compatriots.
Cartoonist Joann Sfar proves a bold and inspired choice as director, interpolating occasional puppet action into a pacey account of the defining dramas – and greatest hits – of Gainsbourg’s lurid life. As the movie tells it, our hero first flaunted authority as a boy during the Nazi occupation and never stopped. He figured out young that he possessed the wit to talk beautiful women into seeing past his beaky nose and stick-out ears. In a film notable for lookalike casting, Kacey Mottet Klein gets things off to an electric start as Lucien Ginsburg, the startlingly unchildlike child who would grow up to be Serge Gainsbourg, while Éric Elmosnino is a dead ringer for the adult Serge. — BG
“Both evocative and faithful in its depiction of the famed French singer’s lascivious life, Gainsbourg offers up a feast of memorable chansons and an almost endless parade of drop-dead-gorgeous muses.” — Jordan Mintzer, Variety