Gainsbourg is the biopic opening a gateway into the imagination, the disturbances and the infinite sex appeal of French painter, singer, songwriter and actor Serge Gainsbourg.
The surrealist portrait begins with the cheeky schoolboy charming women three times his age. No less than Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin all fell for the ordinary but extraordinary Frenchman and the intimate scenes between them are delivered with impeccable style. Don’t blink even for a second when Bardot (played by i-D cover star Laetitia Casta) dances around a grand piano wearing nothing more than a white sheet; cinematic gold.
Director Joann Sfar makes no secret of the fact that he is completely obsessed with Gainsbourg. The effortless, go-with-the-flow narrative is actually the scrupulous product of a lifelong admiration. A celebrated graphic novelist, Sfar created an animated alter ego to follow his hero through the film. The sinister figure possesses exaggerated features of the human Gainsbourg and serves as a constant metaphor for his inhibitions and darkest fears. Sfar says, “Gainsbourg always tested the limits but only a fool would believe cynicism was the motive behind his actions. This is the story of a timid, self-conscious man who protects himself as best he can”.
However, despite Sfar’s belief in him, the audience are in danger of losing sympathy for the protagonist as the film delves into his later years. Far easier to fall in love with Lucy Gordon as the almost inimitable Jane Birkin with her cockney-twanging French, her chic style and her doe-eyed innocence. Actress Lucy tragically committed suicide in May last year, casting a macabre shadow over the film and rendering her performance that much more poignant. The film has been dedicated to her.
Released in UK cinemas on 30 July