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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life: movie review

Serge Gainsbourg's life is given fresh interpretation in this biopic fantasia about the French singer-songwriter.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / September 2, 2011

Anna Mouglalis and Eric Elmosnino are shown in a scene from the film 'Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.'

Courtesy of Music Box Films

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Despite its title, there is little in “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life” to support its contention that famed French pop singer-songwriter-libertine Serge Gainsbourg (played by heavy-lidded Eric Elmosnino) was any kind of hero.

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Writer-director Joann Sfar, a comic-book artist making his directorial debut, has concocted a sloggy fantasia about Gainsbourg’s life featuring such oddities as a giant, hook-nosed puppet that acts as the singer’s alter ego, as well as a parade of showy sequences involving grand Gainsbourg amours Brigitte Bardot (Laetitia Casta) and Jane Birkin (Lucy Gordon).

His rise from a marginalized Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Paris to his chain-smoking fame as the composer of such Euro-hits as “Je t’Aime … Moi Non Plus” is presented as one long, hallucinatory jag, revealing far less about Gainsbourg, I would imagine, than about Sfar. Grade: C- (Unrated.)

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