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Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Director:  Joann Sfar
Year Released:  2010
Rating:  2.0

More accurate title: Gainsbourg: An Exaggerated Life. Well-intentioned portrait of the complicated French musician and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino) starts with him as a young lad encountering anti-Semitism and struggles with his own 'ugliness' and ends up with him morphing into his alter ego, a hard-drinking, hard-smoking outspoken womanizer. Though Sfar is clearly a fan, and not averse to showing the formidable Gainsbourg at his worst, I found the fantasy elements in this - primarily Gainsbourg's alter-ego, played by Doug Jones (and sporting a massive nose and ears, demonic and hedonistic) - to be too distracting and gaudy and basically a cover for the rather ordinary arc of a star who finds fame but is brought down by his poor lifestyle choices (Gainsbourg really, really liked alcohol ... and died in his early sixties). Elmosnino nails the performance without descending into caricature ... too bad the movie can't do the same. The luscious Laetitia Casta is a dead ringer for Bardot.

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