The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

23

'Gainsbourg', Joann Sfar's disappointing biopic of France's greatest ever pop star, opens in Irish cinemas on 30 July.

You'll remember that we reviewed it in detail here when it first came out in France back in January. Just to recap: the first half-hour featuring the boy Lucien Ginsburg is energetic and promising, but the rest of the movie (focusing on the adult Serge Gainsbourg) is merely a series of clumsy caricatures with no character development or motivation. Ever wondered how the worldwide scandal and fame of 'Je T'aime (Moi Non Plus)'still pop's most notorious single, affected Serge and Jane Birkin? Well, you won't find out from this film.

That said, if you're a Francophile you'll probably find it interesting enough. The initial concept - personifying Gainsbourg's self-doubt as a cartoonish alter-ego - is quite clever, even if Sfar makes it carry too much of the film's dramatic weight. Eric Elmosnino, an astounding dead-ringer for Gainsbourg, is watchable throughout. Still, the whole film survives on the good-will created by its entertaining first act.

Music-lovers will get little insight on the creative processes of a genuine pop genius: Serge is just shown serving up ready-prepared classics like 'Comic Strip'. Non-francophiles will quickly tire of seeing French stars impersonated for the amusement of a French cinema audience.

However, if this film and its publicity help introduce Irish audiences to Serge's 1967-71 golden period, some of the most thrilling and influential pop music ever made, then it will have done some good. 

Looking very cool indeed, here's Serge Gainsbourg smoking along to his magnificent 'Initials B.B.':


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