Several months ago the Brooklyn Gal wrote about Serge Gainsbourg, the late Gallic legend whose musical talent knew no bounds. We were wondering when, if ever, Joann Sfar’s film Gainsbourg Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus, would make its theater debut. We had been lucky enough to catch it at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2010, and we suspected that it might have sunk into the cracks of oblivion.
Yesterday Serge resurfaced. First, a friend sent us this incredible photo of the French provocateur and his main squeeze, Jane Birkin (yes, the parents of Charlotte Gainsbourg). Then, while flipping through the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar on our Nook, we discovered that that long-shelved film is ready to roll; it will finally see the light of day, or, rather, the dim light of the movie theaters, on August 31. The old title has been replaces with the new, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, perhaps to appeal to an American audience that knows little of his influence and prodigious talent, not to mention his incessant smoking, tomcat tendencies and charming bad boy ways.
Should anyone need a Serge fix till the film opens, we here at the Brooklyn Gal have a Band-aid solution: find yourself a copy of Sylvie Simmons’ biography, Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes and indulge in a late summer read…
The other night we decided to watch Public Speaking, Martin Scorcese’s HBO documentary about Fran Lebowitz, a brash, brainy New York writer renowned for her razor-sharp wit. One of the highlights of the movie for the Brooklyn Gal: the video clip of Serge Gainsbourg singing New York USA that Scorcese used to illustrate some pivotal point about Leibowitz’s life in the big city.
Like many of the late, great French showman’s tunes this melodic homage to Manhattan is schmaltzy, theatrical and classy, all at once – in other words, oui, it’s vintage Gainsbourg.
And it brought to mind director/artist Joann Sfar’s film Gainsbourg Je t’aime…moi non plus, which we were lucky enough to catch at last spring’s Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan. Funny, we thought that this quirky love letter to Gainsbourg, based on Sfar’s graphic novel, would be a cult hit or that it would at least gain traction over time, but after making a splash at the festival it seemed to disappear into the filmic ether. Will it ever have a proper theatrical release in the states (or did we miss it?!)
Perhaps Americans are just not all that interested in Gainsbourg and his wild exploits.
But the Brooklyn Gal also had the chance to see the amazing Gainsbourg multimedia exhibit in 2008 at the Museé de Musique in Paris and we truly believe that this Gallic pop star was a genius, a man of many genres, who was way, way ahead of his time. And while he remains an icon in France 20 years after his death, he somehow never attained that kind of notoriety here. We’d even gamble to say that many people have absolutely no clue about Serge.
Maybe it’s time for a Gainsbourg musical on Broadway or a biography on the History channel. Or maybe his super-stylish musician-actor daughter Charlotte can do her take on her father’s songbooks.
In other words, we think the time is right for a Serge resurgence.