Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin were the “it” couple in France during the late 60s and early 70s. This is the film that brought them together, their To Have and Have Not, if you will. Musician Gainsbourg (who, for the uninitiated, had a singing style that was a cross between Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits) plays a married director of successful TV commercials. He begins an affair with an 18-year-old (Birkin). Their relationship hits most of the predictable moments of such movie romances from that period.
And it is almost completely uninteresting. There is zero chemistry between the leads, but neither has much by way of screen presence to start with. Gainsbourg is startlingly ugly, and Birkin is strikingly beautiful, but that’s hardly enough to keep us watching. Neither character is remotely likeable, and the self-referential moments in the film were smug clichés already in 1969. The film holds some interest as a pop culture trivia answer, but for anyone unfamiliar with Gainsbourg and Birkin, it’s an intolerable bore.
The mono is perfectly acceptable at the level of sound quality. The music (by Gainsbourg) sounds fine, and the dialogue is clear. However, the post-synchronization is quite apparent, and it said synchronization is often not quite accurate, giving us a tiny but disorienting gap between lip movements and sound.
The film is certainly showing its age, at least in this print, with quite noticeable grain and rather drab, washed out colours, which make the film an even duller experience than it already is. The age of the film is certainly a consideration, and the transfer is definitely watchable, but it never rises above the level of workmanlike.
Nothing but the trailer. Some kind of contextualizing material for viewers unfamiliar with the leads would have been very helpful.
The disc is a valuable historical document, but the film is also a bit of an ordeal to sit through, as it is a veritable catalogue of sins of the sixties.