Film Review: Jane by Charlotte

Daughter and mother

While London might have been swinging during the ‘60s, it was also boomtime in Paris. The French economy was experiencing almost unparalleled growth and with it came a decade of prosperity and hope. Not to mention, political and social turbulence. It was during this time that Serge Gainsbourg came to prominence, his playful and seductive songs caused a stir within polite society, as did his relationships with famous women.

His great love was actress and singer Jane Birkin, who he married and had a daughter with. Charlotte Gainsbourg followed in her father’s footsteps both musically and on the big screen. However, her relationship with her mother has always been slightly reserved. A distance between them, that neither women could accurately pinpoint. In her feature debut, Jane by Charlotte, she sets about rectifying this.

Jane by Charlotte is an intimate portrait of a mother by a loving daughter. This is the great strength of Gainsbourg’s film. It’s an insight into Birkin’s life, indeed their family life, that we wouldn’t otherwise have been party to. If you’re a fan of any of the trio, it’s invaluable. Otherwise, there may be slim pickings here. It’s technically debatable, at times, and often feels terribly self-indulgent. Jane by Charlotte provides more of a vignette than a rounded picture.

Jane by Charlotte opens at Quad Cinema, NYC on 18 March and Landmark Westwood, LA on 25 March.

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