"enchanting, seductive... perfect"
Oh how I love a good biopic. It has all the sleazy satisfaction of having a thorough nose in someone’s bag; watching a scandalous soap; reading a trashy magazine. You feel like you’ve been let in on a secret, caught someone famous pick their nose (and seen them eat it if you’re really lucky) or have a right old break down in their (stained) pyjamas. And, unlike reading a biography, which are always inevitably repetitive, dull and just plain tacky, a good biopic - especially one about a rebel artist – makes you feel cool, smug and like you really get them (heck, we could’ve been best friends!). And so, Gainsbourg shot straight to the peak of my top three films about the tragic lives of sexy music boys – right above I’m Not There (Bob Dylan) and Nowhere Boy (John Lennon).
I was actually pretty apprehensive when I settled down to watch this little work of art; a film about a French super-star? The one that made that sickly Je T’aime song with all the sex breathing? Really? Was this going to be a soup of self-indulgence? Apparently not.
Gainsbourg’s childhood in Paris is a Donnie Darko meets Where The Wild Things Are and A Nightmare Before Christmas dream state, but a cooler, Frencher one. Our young Russian-Jewish hero, then known as Lucien Ginsburg, trots around a Nazi-filled Paris all happy and chirpy and proud of his yellow star. He sings the French national anthem to pro-Nazi French militia, seduces an old drunk bag lady and quarrels with a giant marionette.
As he grows up the magic fog state sharpens just a little, the marionettes multiply and he becomes the epitome of a poor, tortured soul. And just as the focus straightens out Gainsbourg becomes a hit, beds the most exquisite women and has a darn good time, filled with drama, anger, drugs and the like. It’s all very erotohemianistic (that’s erotic+bohemian+hedonistic, btw). Every sense is tingled.
Needles to say, I was hooked throughout. (And now I really fancy gangly men with awkward noses).