Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2011)



Critic 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.

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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
Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
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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
Philippe Katerine
as Boris Vian
Razvan Vasilescu
as Joseph Ginsburg
Yolande Moreau
as Fréhel
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
Alice Carel
as Judith
Le Quatuor
as Les Frères Jacques
Roger Mollien
as France Gall's Father
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

All Critics (78) | Top Critics (25)

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

Full Review… | December 8, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | November 15, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | November 10, 2011
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

French pop star Serge Gainsbourg was as much iconoclast as icon, so it's fitting that this fanciful biopic is both affectionate and irreverent.

Full Review… | November 4, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Alas, "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life" loses steam and grows more perfunctory as it wears on.

Full Review… | October 27, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

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… | October 27, 2011
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life


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 Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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
Greg S

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.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

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