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The Tamarind saw: Gainsbourg

5 August 2010
Published in Culture
by The Tamarind

The music and the lyrics are legendary, medicine and so are his women. Serge Gainsbourg relives – the unmistakable voice, sovaldi the cigarettes lit in quick succession – in the latest biopic about a French icon, doctor directed by Joann Sfar and masterfully interpreted by Eric Elmosnino. Following his evolution, from a child learning the piano during German occupation to the young student in art school to the musical myth, the epic story is accompanied by his music. La Javanaise. L’hotel particulier. And of course Je t’aime…moi non plus. And the epic is shared with his muses and lovers: Juliette Gréco (Anna Mouglalis), Brigitte Bardot (Laetitia Casta), Jane Birkin (Lucy Gordon, who tragically committed suicide after shooting the movie and to whom it is dedicated). A surreal animation element is absolutly unnecessary to the story and is probably just an attempt for originality, whereas the brilliant performances of the actors and the musical score are by far sufficient to make the movie compelling. A man who revolutionised la chanson , who had the intuition of importing and incorporating reggae and whose story is ultimately pervaded by melancholy.

For all Gainsbourg fans (and not only) the movie can be a catalyst to go home and listen to his records: both his own work (the Histoire of Melody Nelson, but let’s not forget his contribution to Jean-Claude Vannier’s L’enfant assassin des mouches) and also the album Monsieur Gainsbourg revisited, a project coordinated by Jane Birkin in 2006 (15th anniversary of Serge’s death) in which his most famous songs are interpreted in English by the likes of Michael Stipe, Marianne Faithfull, Franz Ferdinand, Jarvis Cocker, Cat Power, Carla Bruni and Beth Gibbons.

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