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October 28, 2011

GAINESBOURG FILM ON THE FAST TRACK




GAINESBOURG: A HEROIC LIFE

EVEN AS A KID GAINESBOURG’S LIFE WAS A ROLLER COASTER RIDE

Actress plays Bardot as Gainesbourg plays music. Courtesy Photo
As a child he was a charmer.
Everyone seemed to be fascinated with him and his multiple talents. He had seemed to attract everyone that that came near him. And as time goes on, he gets more involved in sexual intrigues.

There is something about him in this film that brings up memories of Humphrey Bogart. There is the dangling cigarette in his mouth -- that rarely leaves his mouth, not even while he’s having sex.

He was a talented musician and artist. His friends (which came and went) convinced him to change his name from Lucien to Serge Gainsbourg. His fame spread, and he became the darling of every party around. If someone dropped an envelope – he would get a group together and celebrate the dropping of that envelope. His smoking was always there. How he managed to breath is truly an amazement.

Sure, he had the flair for writing music – but you knew that he was headed for a train wreck. But he didn’t care. His music was all that he cared about. It was always around him – unlike his friends that loved him one day – and stayed away the next day from his quirkiness. A few remained loyal. He dated and lived with many. Most notable Brigitte Bardot, who eventually saw that he was getting more and more bizarre as the days went by.

The most interesting thing about this film is the gorgeous filmmaking and the atmosphere of another time. We watch him fall apart – ruining his own life. But, apparently that is what he wanted – a complex crazy life.

He knew the Parisian clubs very well. He attended them almost everyday, drinking and smoking. Yes, he had a lot of charisma – but not when he became a relentless slob that smelled of booze.

There are sequences that totally capture your attention. The film sequences are episodic. I could have done without the bits of animation…but once I got used to his alter ego popping up unexpectedly, I began to like the life-sized puppet that seemed to always be with Serge.

I think this is a very astounding movie to watch. The fascination is the dream like look of the entire film. Plus, the actors are terrific. Strong performances from everyone! Visually, this is one of the most luscious and exhilarating films to watch this year.

RATING: THREE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! –trademarked-

Now playing at Landmark Theatres.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he also produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

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