I was surprised to learn that he was a huge star in France and though he’s not the prettiest horse in the stable, he was a lover of some beautiful women, like Bridgette Bardot. His childhood is shown as a scary one, a young Jewish boy hiding from the Nazis. He also resented his father’s attempts to make him play the piano, but obeyed, a move that would pay off later, big time. But he really wanted to draw, and his imagination is vividly illustrated by the film’s director, Joann Sfar, a comic book artist. The tangible depiction of the way the artist sees the world isn’t as smooth or integrated as in Julie Taymor’s excellent film Frida, but it adds a nice touch of whimsy to the otherwise standard biopic structure.
Gainsbourg is embodied by actor Eric Elmosnino, not only in the remarkable resemblance but in the intriguing combination of self-effacement and bravado that apparently made the skinny, big-eared guy irresistible to women. The acting is flawless all around.
The film assumes a certain amount of familiarity with Gainsbourg’s music and I would have liked to hear whole songs instead of the snippets played throughout. Also, the title isn’t really explained, as the provocateur wasn’t so much heroic as he was defiantly ballsy.
But if you’re curious about the artist, or France in the 60s, or how to get the girl even if you sort of resemble The Count on Sesame Street, here’s the movie for you.
3 out of 5 stars