Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 82


Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,591
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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 Bardot (Laetitia Casta), Jane Birkin (Lucy Gordon), and beatnik icon Juliette Gréco (Anna Mouglalis) share the screen with a giant puppet alter-ego: a scary, libidinous bad-boy who personifies all of Gainsbourg's worst proclivities. -- (C) Music Box Films


Eric Elmosnino
as Serge Gainsbourg
Lucy Gordon
as Jane Birkin
Laetitia Casta
as Brigitte Bardot
Doug Jones
as La Gueule
Anna Mouglalis
as Juliette Greco
Sara Forestier
as France Gall
Kacey Mottet Klein
as Lucien Ginsburg
Razvan Vasilescu
as Joseph Ginsburg
Claude Chabrol
as Music Producer
Philippe Duquesne
as Lucky Sarcelles
Deborah Grall
as Elisabeth
Joann Sfar
as Georges Brassens
Chloé Dumas
as Natalie Wood
Ophélia Kolb
as The Model
François Morel
as Headmaster
Angelo Debarre
as Gypsy Guitarist
Le Quatuor
as Les Frères Jacques
Roger Mollien
as France Gall's Father
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Critic Reviews for Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

All Critics (82) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (22)

Audience Reviews for Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

  • Jul 04, 2013
    Before there was a Serge Gainsbourg(Eric Elmosnino), there was a Lucien Ginsburg(Kacey Mottet Klein), who as a child during the Nazi occupation of France, shows up early to get his yellow star. Otherwise, his musician father(Razvan Vasilescu) wants him to follow in his footsteps but young Lucien has other ideas that involve an interest in painting, especially after an early encounter with a nude model(Ophelia Kolb). As an adult, he is still studying art, at least until he meets Juliette Greco(Anna Mouglalis), Dali's mistress, as his mind goes back to music where the money is. As much as the spirited and sexy biopic "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life" assumes the audience already knows about the work of the legendary composer and musician, it does not hurt the movie as it takes more of a psychological and expressionistic view, starting with the cool animated opening titles, as Gainsbourg is advised by his walking id(Doug Jones,) who also interacts with other characters, well into adulthood. That's when he gets to live the life he always dreamed of as a child with a panoply of beautiful women, and smoking cigarettes that make him look cool and which will also be the end of him. But if he could also make great songs like 'Bonnie and Clyde' with Brigitte Bardot(Laetitia Casta), I'm more than willing to look the other way.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 14, 2011
    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.
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 11, 2011
    This charming biopic about Serge Gainsbourg is definitely not special, 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.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 26, 2011
    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.
    Conner R Super Reviewer

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