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Villager Film Review: GAINSBOURG, JE T’ AIME…MOI NON PLUS

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Check out my review of Gainsbourg, Je T’AIME…Moi Non Plus in this week’s Villager.

Villager Gainsbourg Review

GAINSBOURG, JE T’ AIME…MOI NON PLUS (+)
Directed by Joann Sfar
136 minutes. In French with subtitles
4/30, 6:00pm. Screening at Village East
Cinema (181 Second Ave. at 12th Street).

Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Anna Mougalis as Juliette Greco; Eric Elmosnino as Serge Gainsbourg

Tribeca Film Fest French flick pleases

BY PAULA ROSENBERG

Director Joann Sfar’s debut film — “Gainsbourg, Je t’Aime…Moi Non Plus” — is a biopic of Parisian singer/artist/icon Serge Gainsbourg.

The film begins with the music legend’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Paris.  Born “Lucien Ginsburg”, the youngster at one point must hide in the forest to escape capture. The story then moves on to Serge’s adulthood and follows his various successes, failures, and a long list of lovers.

The film’s star, Eric Elmosnino, is perfectly cast as Gainsbourg. The actor not only bears a striking likeness to him, but manages to balance the artist’s genius and self-destructiveness with ease. The supporting performers are equally well-cast. Laetitia Casta is a carbon copy of Brigitte Bardot. Rounding out the cast are Lucy Gordon as Gainsbourg’s third wife (British actress, Jane Birkin) and Anna Mougalis as chanson singer, Juliette Greco.

Sfar, who also penned the screenplay, drew on his background as a comics artist to create giant puppets that spring from Gainsbourg’s subconscious throughout the film — the most constant creature being La Gueile (Doug Jones), who represents Serge’s dark side.

Although the visual effects are stunning and the ensemble cast gifted, the film is not without flaws.  There are times where events in Gainsbourg’s life are passed over quickly and without account.  Most apparent is the sudden appearance of Gainsbourg’s second wife whose entrance and departure from Serge’s life are not noted or explained.

Despite some minor imperfections, “Gainsbourg…” is an enjoyable film. Sfar wisely chose not to end the film with Serge’s death in 1991, and lets the movie stand as a celebration of the complex performer’s life.  Some of Gainsbourg’s most well-know songs are featured in the film, including “Baby Pop,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Je t’amie…moi non plus.” Elmosnino did all of his own singing in the film.  Beyond the uncanny resemblance, Elmosnio’s vocals match Gainsbourg’s.  There are moments when the similarities are so striking that one forgets that it is not Serge Gainsbourg himself on screen.

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