Fans of Serge Gainsbourg may be a little disappointed that "Gainsbourg:Vie Heroique", by Joann Sfar, offers a somewhat fragmented and kaleidoscopic picture of the great French singer and songwriter, instead of a more straight, documentary style biopic. Somewhat in the manner of the British movie, "Sex and Drugs and Rock n'Roll",(2009), where Andy Serkis recreated Ian Dury unforgettably in a series of episodes from the performer's life, Sfar presents a series of tableaux, each one of which illustrates a particular theme which the director considers significant in relation to Gainsbourg's career.
Eric Elmosnino gives a terrific performance in the name role. Other players too give outstanding performances, not only in terms of their vitality but also to an uncanny degree in looking so much like the characters Gainsbourg encountered during his life. In this regard the actors who played Bardot (Laetitia Casta), Juliette Greco (Anna Mouglalis), and Jane Birkin (the late Lucy Gordon), were outstanding. Other characters, including Frehel, Georges Brassens, Boris Vian and Django Reinhard, also appear briefly and much trouble has been taken to find actors who greatly resemble the original figures.
The film throughout is a wonderfully colourful and witty tribute to Gainsbourg's life and times - it is visually very beautiful - but more importantly it has a tough political edge in relation to its treatment of anti-semitism, both in the France of Gainsbourg's time, and in personal terms of the singer's perception of himself. Again, fans of the singer may regret that less attention is paid to Gainsbourg's music, but maybe someone is already preparing the documentary that would complete the picture.
Altogether the film is an entertaining and vivid recreation of an era in French culture. Highly recommended.