Mixed or average reviews - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

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  • Summary: Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a completely original take on one of France’s greatest mavericks, the illustrious and infamous Jewish singer-songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg. Born Lucien Ginsburg to Russian-Jewish parents, Sfar follows him from his precocious childhood in Nazi-occupied Paris, to his beginnings as small time jazz musician and finally pop superstar. Along the way he romances many of the era’s most beautiful women, including Juliette Greco, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. Employing a witty surrealistic style and a soundtrack that includes many of the musician’s greatest hits, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a quintessential time capsule to ‘60’s Paris. (Music Box Films) Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Sep 1, 2011
    Unconventional, imaginative, nothing if not audacious, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life is a portrait of creativity from the inside, a serious yet playful attempt to find an artistic way to tell an emotional truth.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 26, 2011
    The movie unreels his musical biography with an unending series of tastes of songs and performances. You may be surprised by how many you recognize.
  3. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    Aug 28, 2011
    Both evocative and faithful in its depiction of the famed French singer's lascivious life, "Gainsbourg (vie heroique)" offers up a feast of memorable chansons and an almost endless parade of drop-dead-gorgeous muses.
  4. Reviewed by: Wade Major
    Aug 28, 2011
    Despite its ultimate lack of profundity, Gainsbourg is certain to still be a sufficiently engaging and meaningful experience to enthrall the initiated while stimulating the curiosity of the uninitiated.
  5. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Sep 2, 2011
    What the movie lacks in depth it makes up for in surreal humor, and - just as he should - Gainsbourg look-alike Elmosnino seduces us effortlessly.
  6. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Nov 3, 2011
    An excellently cast biopic about yet another self-destructive genius who burnt out but will never fade away – at least not in France, or wherever cigarettes, alcohol, and sex are still allowed.
  7. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Aug 30, 2011
    Despite the attention the film pays to the divide between the man as the ungainly, loving second-gen immigrant versus the boozy provocateur, it's not a portrait of much psychological depth.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Lyn
    Jun 6, 2014
    An extra point for the storytelling in this film, which is consistently entertaining and inventive. In Gainsbourg's day -- before the briefest little tweet could conjure up a big, ridiculous controversy -- you had to work harder to stir things up. The film shows how he did that, while dealing with his own demons and insecurities. I've always been particularly interested in thinking about Gainsbourg in relation to his daughter Charlotte. She (alas?) looks more like him than her gorgeous mother, but also has his phenomenal ability for shape-shifting, with her serious, terrific talent. This was an interesting look at a her father as a self-made pop culture phenomenon. Expand
  2. Sep 5, 2011
    I had moderately high expectations for this film after seeing the very stylish & cool trailer. However, Serge was just enough of a jerk, and his alter ego puppet was just annoying enough that the effects of the music and historical context were drowned out. Yes, Eric Elmosnino does a serviceable job as Serge, and Laetitia Casta is outstanding as Bridget Bardot. But it touches too many themes without fully penetrating the lead character's psychology and motivations. Tough to root for the guy. A couple of people in my (packed) theater gave it a round of applause, but the rest of the the group was silent. Expand