Serge, Mon Amour

For a man who lived his adult life in public view — on stage, in the newspapers, in numerous sultry music videos, and on countless talk shows — Serge Gainsbourg remained a charming, chain-smoking enigma. To most of his French countrymen, the brilliant pop songwriter and singer epitomized a freewheeling break from postwar conformity and complacency. To others, he was an ungrateful, misogynistic cynic with an unquenchable appetite for gorgeous women and top-shelf alcohol. Gainsbourg: The Man Who Loved Women is Didier Varrod and Pascal Forneri's witty and immersive documentary for French television. It aspires to unearth the artist's true nature through a chorus of deeply affectionate female voices. Twenty years after Gainsbourg's death, the ladies' man is warmly remembered by ex-lovers Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, singers Juliette Greco and Vanessa Paradis, and daughter Charlotte. But it's the legend's voice, sometimes smooth and sometimes raspy, concealing as much as it reveals, that pins us to our chair. (The doc is perfect companion viewing for Joanne Sfar's quirky bio-pic, Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, on a Landmark theater screen in San Francisco this week.)
Oct. 28-Nov. 10; Sat., Nov. 12, 9:15 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 14, 9:15 p.m.; Nov. 16-17, 9:15 p.m., 2011

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