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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2011)

tomatometer

73

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 78
Fresh: 57 | Rotten: 21

It might be thinly written and messily made, but Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is also appropriately glamorous and intense -- and powerfully led by a gripping performance from Erik Elmosnino.

56

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 25
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 11

It might be thinly written and messily made, but Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is also appropriately glamorous and intense -- and powerfully led by a gripping performance from Erik Elmosnino.

audience

68

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 16,469

My Rating

Movie Info

Comic book artist Joann Sfar interprets the life of '60s pop star Serge Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino),1921-1991, beginning with his childhood years in Nazi-occupied Paris, through his early years as a painter and jazz musician (brushing shoulders with Boris Vian), to his life as a wildly popular singer-songwriter, notorious bon vivant, and lover of some of the world's most glamorous women. Gainsbourg's two-sided personality (narcissistic and self-loathing) and his over-the-top antics with Brigitte

Mar 20, 2012

$0.2M

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All Critics (78) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (57) | Rotten (21) | DVD (4)

It's a comic-strip version of one man's life and times, but it's tres cool.

December 9, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While the movie's on a roll, it's zesty, engaging and frisky.

November 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In short, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a charmer.

November 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
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French pop star Serge Gainsbourg was as much iconoclast as icon, so it's fitting that this fanciful biopic is both affectionate and irreverent.

November 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Alas, "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life" loses steam and grows more perfunctory as it wears on.

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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It's the story of a genius with no moral sense and no interests beyond sensuality. The catchy, insinuating music can only carry you so far.

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In conjoining Jewish heritage and classic French chanson, Gainsbourg celebrates the hybridity of contemporary French culture, while its combination of realist narrative and poetic animation make it both a touching biopic and an inspired musical.

June 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

I love it when a film surprises me, and "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life" won me over in the very beginning and held me for the full 122 minutes because of its quirky passion and intelligence.

March 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A cartoonist who created a graphic novel about Gainsbourg's life and who has now adapted it to the screen. The result is a film that's as playful as its subject matter although not nearly as provocative or complex.

November 18, 2011 Full Review Source: KPBS.org
KPBS.org

Overall, the film makes a common mistake: it tells what happened to Gainsbourg, but not who he really was.

November 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Very nearly as inventive and fascinating as it is frustrating.

November 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Sfar, perhaps understandably, adores the legend of Serge Gainsbourg too much to make the whole nicotine-infused picture anything greater than what it is.

November 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Whatever its faults, it's better than Nine.

October 28, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Elmosnino gives a deft and moving performance as the insecure piano player who reinvents himself as Gainsbourg, pop poet and improbable ladies' man, impelled to break taboos not only out of anger, but also to affirm his own existence.

October 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

As a musical mischief maker who exuded endless existential ennui, Serge's complexity is just too ungainly for any one biopic - but G:AHL is great starter kit.

September 16, 2011 Full Review Source: StaciWilson.com
StaciWilson.com

Gainsbourg is a noble attempt and interesting enough to keep you watching, but it's bound to disappoint fans of the singer's and possibly will confuse any newcomer to the story.

September 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Audience Reviews for Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Slightly surrealistic biopic covering the life of a French folk/rock icon, the hard-drinking, hard-smoking Lothario Serge Gainsbourg, with a scary puppet doppelganger on hand representing his inner demons. The experimentalism and some dead-on portrayals of Gainsboug's glamorous lovers---Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin---make for a lively tribute to the rakish singer's rebel spirit.
December 14, 2011
366weirdmovies
Greg S

Super Reviewer

This charming biopic about Serge Gainsbourg is definitely not amazing, and I really don't know what is so heroic about him, but it is a delight to see how he wrote some of his songs and met the women of his life, in a surreal and stylish depiction of part of his existence.
August 15, 2011
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

I could care less about the life of Gainsbourg and this movie really didn't change my mind. It mainly just follows the exact same formula of The Doors, but just with a far less interesting subject. It's almost baffling how they could get away with telling such a mirrored story when I'm sue the two people couldn't have been different. Sometimes this looks like a filmed play, due to the odd lighting and desire to always frame the action in exactly the same way. It also seemed to drag for a ridiculously long time for being just a 2hr movie. I'm not someone who is a die-hard fan of French film-making and this seemed to posses all the traits I don't care for. The necessity for imaginary puppets, goofy narrative breaks and oddly paced scenes didn't help me enjoy this anymore. The one thing I did happen to enjoy was all the beautiful women, but that's hardly something you can compliment the movie itself for. Eric Elmosnino really doesn't do anything interesting here; he just sort'v mopes his way through the movie and doesn't even become interesting until the very last stretch of Gainsbourg's life. I'm sure there will be people that eat this up and just love this biopic, but I really found it to be pointless and terribly executed.
June 27, 2011
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

Gainsbourg is a refreshing biopic that skillfully avoids all the usual cliches found in the genres. Maybe it takes someone other than a film director to tackle films like this, personally I think getting someone like Joann Sfar, a well known and much loved graphic artists (who knows a bit about Gainsbourg) was a brilliant decision. It is both visually stimulating and beautifully shot, I would argue that you wouldn't need to know anything about Gainsbourg before watching this film, but that said, fans need not worry, the mix of fact and myth suits the legend of Gainsbourg perfectly.There will undoubtedly be things you didn't know about Gainsbourg but all the more interesting 'Half-truths' are all accounted for and the film is all the better for it. Personally I loved it, it's the best biopic I've seen for a very long time and I thoroughly recommend it!
May 18, 2011
SirPant

Super Reviewer

    1. Serge Gainsbourg: [spoken to Jane] I'm trying to resist my desire to kiss you.
    – Submitted by George B (2 years ago)
    1. Serge Gainsbourg: [singing] We were in love. As long as the song lasted.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Serge Gainsbourg: No, it's pretty when you cry.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Foreign Titles

  • Gainsbourg - Der Mann, der die Frauen liebte (DE)
  • Gainsbourg, vie heroique (UK)
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