Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gainsborg (2010)

This is a wonderfully atypical biography of singer, songwriter, artist and father of Charlotte, Serge Gainsborg. This is the story of the man from his youth in occupied France during the Second World War until his death. It’s a film I failed to see at last years Tribeca Film Festival, and which seems to have only just picked up a US release. Unaware of the late summer release I got a DVD from the UK. Watching the film the other night, I found what was going to be a ten minute dip into the pond, instead became a late night in front of the TV past my bedtime.

I could fault the film for not being forth coming with dates and details about who was who and what was when, but on the other hand the film seems to assume that you know something of your subject. I really didn’t, but I didn’t care. Frankly the film paints such a wonderful portrait of it’s subject that you really stop caring about the details because you’re being so damned entertained by what you're seeing. There was a point where I realized that had the film not been true, I wouldn’t have cared about the details, and once that happened I stopped caring and just went with it.

On the other hand any film that has your main character interacting with cartoon costumes of himself can’t be held to be anything other than a portrait of the man as a human being rather than a completely historic document. Frankly by the end of the film I had the feeling that I had a better sense of the man than I would have had all the details been filled in.

Give a great deal of credit to director Joann Sfar, who manages to make a film that is anything other than typical. Yes, it covers the life of it’s subject, but it seems to tell you more about it than one normally would expect from a straight forward bio pic.

I really loved this film a great deal. Watching the film I was saddened that I didn’t get to see the film at Tribeca last year. I would have loved to have seen this in a theater and watched how people reacted. On the other hand by not seeing it at the festival I didn’t have to feel bad at not seeing the film again any time soon.

While its probably not one of the “best” films of the year, it’s looking to be one of my favorites.

When you can, give this film a shot.

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