Before the Jolie-Pitts and the Depp-Paradises, there were the Gainsbourg-Birkins. For many Americans, the Gainsbourg-Birkins will always be the ultimate cool French family–damaged rebel Serge, sexy-shy Jane, and jolie-laide Charlotte. Here are a few films currently streaming line to introduce them to our French students, and others. Once you’ve practiced your French with these films, be sure to sign up for out next round of French classes starting soon.
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (Gainsbourg Vie héroïque)
Joann Sfar (2010, France), Amazon
An unconventional biopic of Serge Gainsbourg, based on a comic book by renowned comic book artist Joann Sfar. The true story of Gainsbourg’s incredible life, from persecution by the Nazis as a young Jewish boy in occupied France to a failed career as a painter to super-stardom as a singer, is combined with whimsical interludes featuring a giant papier-mâché doppelgänger that follows him around, never letting him forget where he came from. Highlights include the stellar impersonations of Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin by Laetitia Casta and Lucy Gordon.
Jane B. for Agnes V. (Jane B. par Agnès V.)
Agnès Varda (1988, France), Amazon
A classic arthouse film made by and starring two legendary women, this “imaginary bio-pic” combines new interviews with Jane Birkin and short scenes in which she plays archetypal female characters like Marie Antoinette. The film was inspired by Jane Birkin’s apprehension about turning 40, a concern she confided in Varda. This film, a testament to her ageless, iconic beauty, was the result.
3 Hearts (3 coeurs)
Benoît Jacquot (2014, France), Amazon
A classic love triangle movie starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of Serge and Jane. Marc and the married Sylvie meet by chance in a small town and fall in love at first sight. Without exchanging any information, they agree to meet in Paris soon after, but Marc misses the rendezvous and Sylvie returns to her husband, eventually moving to the United States. Moving on with his life, Marc meets Sophie and falls in love. When he finally meets her family, all are shocked to discover that Sophie and Sylvie are sisters! Hijinks ensue leading up to Sophie and Marc’s wedding.