Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life Reviews

Page 1 of 17
Super Reviewer
½ August 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.
Super Reviewer
December 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.
Super Reviewer
June 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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 20, 2011
Very interesting untold true story of famous French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg as well as this is based on the graphic novel by the French writer-director of the film, Joann Sfar.
The Gallic equivalent of Frank Sinatra, Noel Coward and Shane MacGowan, Serge Gainsbourg was unique who redefined '60 and '70s national culture. It's incredible, then, what Sfar, a French comic-book artist, has managed to capture here. Eric Elmosnino miraculously nails Gainsbourg's louche, lupine suavity and beguiling vulnerability, and scenes of the composer's early life - a Fellini-esque fairytale where he's tutored by his vampiric puppet alter-ego, La Guele - are truly powerful. Inexplicably, the second hour lurches into rock biopic cliches - drugs, bad wigs, and the cheesy recreation of the hit composition.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2010
'Gainsbourg', in bio-pic terms, is maybe somewhat of a missed opportunity - despite its bio-friendly length, not much about the man is delved into too deeply, as incidents and character are skimmed over rather too haphazardly. This is a shame, seeing as I for one don't know very much about him aside from his public persona - his songs, especially those with his loves Birkin and Bardot, that he drank a lot and that he always had a cigarette wedged in his mouth.

However, there is still very much to enjoy and admire and if, like me, you are grinning from ear to ear at the vaguely retro cartooning of the title sequence then you may just appreciate the many incidental pleasures that make up the first 75 minutes or so of what follows. Director, Joann Sfar has imagination and flair for sure (his daring use of animation and puppetry helps to stop things feeling dry) and he has certainly paid homage to the man and, if nothing else, this will certainly rejuvenate interest in the music.

Eric Elmosino is terrific in the title role and just like Marion Cotillard before him, in that other flawed bio of an Icône française, he manages to transcend simple convincing impersonation to become the man totally (and there is NO lip-syncing the songs here either, as the cast use their own voices).
Special mentions: A suitably lusty and far too brief turn by Yolande Moreau as Fréhel. The cafe scene where the young Gainsbourg meets her is a joy. As is Sara Forestier - very funny as the cheeky France Gall.
I have to admit that Laetitia Casta's big glam entrance as Bardot left me a little breathless and is one of the film's most indulgent highlights - all thigh-high boots, leopard print, lush blonde tresses and mascara as the distinctive instrumental of 'The Initials BB' trumpets away on the soundtrack. It just couldn't be anyone else.
And the songs! In fact 'Gainsbourg' feels closer to being a musical bio-pic. Or, to be more precise, it's a musical homage - as the songs, staged with originality, poignancy and sheer fun, are always never less than reverential to the artistry of the man (including acknowledging that he was an accomplished painter) if not always telling us something about his character or propelling the story. Look out for what they do with 'Comic Strip' (I just wanted to jump up and cry "more, more!"), not to mention the scene when when we finally hear THAT song - it's a little surreal and quite hysterical. Much like the film actually.
Super Reviewer
½ July 4, 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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 28, 2010
It's a shame that this biopic of French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg was barely released in the States, because it's a solid introduction to his life and music. (And most of America needs one!) First-time director Joann Sfar (note: he's male) goes a bit overboard with gimmicky visual effects -- blame it on Jean-Pierre Jeunet's influence? -- but at least the puppet-headed representation of Gainsbourg's "Gainsbarre" persona is narratively motivated. However, the sequence with the giant, four-legged, four-armed Jewish eggman (seriously) is just too much.

Otherwise, the film gives a fairly detailed account of Gainsbourg's rise from persecuted Russian Jew to struggling painter to iconic superstar, followed by the boozy deterioration where his image as an eccentric scoundrel began to overshadow his achievements (a late haircut scene depicts his slide into self-parody in a clever, metaphorical way). The casting is stunningly perfect, particularly lookalike Eric Elmosnino as Gainsbourg (you truly sense why gorgeous women couldn't resist him, despite his homeliness), Laetitia Casta as Brigitte Bardot (her naked "Comic Strip" dance lingers in memory long after the film's over), Sara Forestier as the coquettish France Gall and tragedy-bound Lucy Gordon as Jane Birkin. Late director Claude Chabrol also adds an amusing, farewell cameo as a label man shocked by Gainsbourg's unveiling of the infamous "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus."

Some may complain that the script skims over too much of Gainsbourg's long decline. Even the scandalous "Lemon Incest" (a suggestive song recorded with his pubescent daughter Charlotte) goes unmentioned. But the film can't cover everything -- this was a life of multiple phases and consistent infamy, and even 130 minutes don't seem like enough time to properly capture him.
½ June 1, 2015
I LOVE Gainsbourg and bought many of his CDs in vinyl in my youth. However, this movie makes me hate him. So disappointed to see him like this. Gross.
½ June 30, 2013
Although GAINSBOURG tries very hard not to be a standard biopic, it totally is despite the presence of a really annoying "puppet" which is actually a man in a bad suit that looks like a stereotype of a Jewish rodent (this is intentional since the film purports to deal with the anti-semitism that Gainsbourg dealt with). The film is exactly like any Hollywood bio pic but unfortunately, they use little of Gainsbourg's actual music--so what is the point? They took this cantankerous fellow and examined nothing of his life or why is sometimes banal pop ditties are important. I actually love his music but the film never explores anything--not even the obvious, how did this ugly fellow get all those chicks! A few super things--Laetitia Casta, who plays Brigitte Bardot, is wonderful and never imitates but totally captures Bardot, Gainsbourg had a happy childhood with terrific parents, the hair and costumes from the 60s and 70s never look ridiculous like they usually do.
½ April 26, 2012
Gainsbourg life as dreamed up by Joann Star. Most likely not accurate but it does feel like it captures the character of the singer-songwriter. Made me want to listen to his songs again.
October 9, 2011
Interestingly done... I loved the use of puppets and animation. Drags on a little too long and loses itself in the middle there but all in all enjoyable if not a little too glossy.
½ September 29, 2011
Eric Elmosnino is scary convincing! Entertaining is the first word that jumps to mind with this one. Very abstract, so for the literal minded: beware. See it playing NOW at @filmbarphx <-- just named New Times best/fav indie theatre!
Super Reviewer
½ August 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.
½ June 1, 2015
I LOVE Gainsbourg and bought many of his CDs in vinyl in my youth. However, this movie makes me hate him. So disappointed to see him like this. Gross.
½ April 10, 2015
60s paris in a poetic & surrealistic way.
March 29, 2015
un résumé de la vie de Gainsbourg sans dates pour repère.
des marionnettes grandeurs nature.
January 1, 2015
If you know nothing about Serge Gainsbourg, this film may serve to be a fine starting point. It's quite surprising to see Claude Chabrol in it.
½ May 29, 2014
it pays homage to France's raunchiest prince of pop --but behind the narcissism, self-indulgent behavior, and litrally the smokes and a swarm of adulating lovers is a talented soul who spent his life fighting to be more than just ordinary, to break out of the Juif mode. Eric Elmosnin has an uncanny resemblance to Gainsbourg and its really quite admirably done. Gainsbarre
August 1, 2010
A beautiful biopic of one of music's most colourful characters.
Page 1 of 17