Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010) Director: Joann Sfar (15)

This delightful film details the rise and fall of French musician and shagger Serge Gainsbourg (his real name Lucien Ginsburg), from his childhood through to wild romances with Juliette Gréco, Brigitte Bardot and marriage to British model Jane Birkin. Eric Elmosnino is enthralling as our main protagonist, with a wonderful supporting turn from the late Lucy Gordon as Birkin (Gordon, very sadly, took her own life before the film's release in France). It's told through a haze of cigarette smoke, booze, rumpled sheets and sultry singing, with an element of fantasy akin to Pan's Labyrinth; Gainsbourg's creepy 'self'/ego 'The Mug' with his long, long fingers, parades after and advises him like the Faun to Ofelia/Princess Moanna.
Detailing Serge's early interests as a talented artist, through to his infamous heavy breathing songs with Bardot and Birkin, Gainsbourg is gentle-paced but never feels overlong at 120 minutes; this is an exotic world, one of late night liaisons and smokey clubs, and we want to be part of it. The switches from woman to woman are never fully explained, although that's not the point; much like his character, the film moves on with no explanation. That's just how it is.
As Serge becomes increasingly political - and drunk - Elmosnino's portrayl really comes into its own. He stumbles, he just about makes it onto stage in time, he's angry and trying to pick up young women in nightclubs. Elmosino does have an uncanny resemblance to Gainsbourg, and he brings a swagger and real sex appeal to the role. You can understand why women fell for him.
Standing up there amongst one of the greatest music biopics, whether you know the work of Gainsbourg or not this is worth a watch. Oui.
3/5 Je t'aimes's