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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life Reviews

Page 1 of 4
Ian Buckwalter
NPR
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Beyond its fantasy elements, Sfar's film doesn't color outside the lines as much as he might like us to think.

Full Review Source: NPR | Original Score: 5.8/10

August 31, 2011
Alison Willmore
Time Out New York
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Despite the attention the film pays to the divide between the man as the ungainly, loving second-gen immigrant versus the boozy provocateur, it's not a portrait of much psychological depth.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 2/5

August 31, 2011
Craig Mathieson
sbs.com.au

Gainsbourg is like a song without a decent chorus, and the man himself, a gifted craftsman, would never have stood for that.

Full Review Source: sbs.com.au | Original Score: 2.5/5

November 4, 2010
Jim Schembri
The Age (Australia)

This plodding, largely uneventful biopic of French singer/songwriter/philanderer Serge Gainsbourg flails with its episodic structure and dire attempts at stylistic quirkiness.

Full Review Source: The Age (Australia) | Original Score: 1.5/5

November 3, 2010
Leigh Paatsch
Herald Sun (Australia)

Viewers unfamiliar with the length, breadth and weirdness of Gainsbourg's imposing body of work will find it difficult to connect with this film.

Full Review Source: Herald Sun (Australia) | Original Score: 2.5/5

November 3, 2010
Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid

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

Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Original Score: 2.5/4

November 18, 2011
Anthony Quinn
Independent

It's a brave variation on the biopic, but not a compelling one.

Full Review Source: Independent | Original Score: 2/5

July 30, 2010
Michelle Orange
Movieline

A few shots of full frontal and an actual devil to point to are poor substitutes for exposure and depth of character.

Full Review Source: Movieline | Original Score: 6.5/10

September 1, 2011
A.O. Scott
New York Times
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Lacks either the dramatic intensity or the arresting insight that might have lifted it out of the pedestrian realm of the admiring biopic.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 2/5

August 30, 2011
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
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Still, for all the 40-year-old filmmaker's interpolated animations and puppets, for the insouciant, slapdash tone that characterizes his graphic novels, and for his protagonist's proclivity for scandal, the movie is too timidly conceived by half.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

August 30, 2011
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Alas, "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life" loses steam and grows more perfunctory as it wears on.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

October 27, 2011
Chris Cabin
Filmcritic.com

drifts for much of its extended runtime like a stream of Technicolor tobacco smoke

Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com | Original Score: 3/5

September 1, 2011
Bernard Besserglik
Hollywood Reporter
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Biopic of French proto-punk starts well but loses focus.

February 1, 2010
Tony Medley
Tolucan Times

Since director Sfar didn't think it important to deal with the "facts" of Gainsbourg's interesting life, what's the point of seeing his phantasmagoric film?

Full Review Source: Tolucan Times | Original Score: 1/10

September 15, 2011
Scott Tobias
AV Club
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What's surprising, and ultimately disappointing, about Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is the degree to which Sfar allows biopic obligations to smother his more whimsical instincts.

Full Review Source: AV Club | Original Score: C+

August 30, 2011
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
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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 and Jane Birkin.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Original Score: C-

September 8, 2011
Norman Wilner
NOW Toronto

You can't say Gainsbourg lacks vision. It's got vision to spare, really. That's the problem.

Full Review Source: NOW Toronto | Original Score: 2/5

September 16, 2011
Stephen Cole
Globe and Mail
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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life accepts its subject on his own terms. And the compromise feels like capitulation before its hero's last record spins to a close.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2.5/4

September 16, 2011
Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
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A viewer who comes into "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life" knowing nothing about Serge Gainsbourg will not come out the other side especially enlightened about the late French-Jewish singer-songwriter's life, least of all why it is heroic.

Full Review Source: Washington Post | Original Score: 1.5/4

October 14, 2011
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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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.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 2/4

October 27, 2011
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