Jane by Charlotte: Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Successful Directorial Debut [critique]

Charlotte Gainsbourg tells Jane Birkin through the prism of their mother-daughter relationship. A conversation never voyeuristic, rich in fascinating secrets.

The opening scene of this documentary – Jane Birkin singing “Ces petits riens” in concert in Japan – can lead for a time on the wrong track, that of a purely biographical film as a return to a busy career and always on the move. But very quickly, we get to the heart of the matter which is quite different. More precisely, from the first question that Charlotte Gainsbourg (who is making her directorial debut here) to her mother, a questioning about a long-dead sensation, a confidence to provoke others: that of having felt treated differently in her mother’s gaze as her two sisters, Kate Barry and Lou Doillon. The tone is set. Daughter and mother will go through the prism of the camera to tell each other what they never dared to say to each other. The ambition is disastrous, the trap of voyeurism and interpersonal skills obviously immense. Corn Jane by Charlotte will ignore it. We are passionate about their exchanges as much because they are two icons as because we can all find their way around. Admittedly this family is extraordinary (a sublime moment of the film is there to recall it: the return for the first time of Jane Birkin in the lair of the street of Verneuil which she shared with Gainsbourg) but the unspoken too long tus, the need to repair the essential thread of the transmission which is sometimes damaged, tends towards the universal. In 1988, in Jane B by Agnès V, Varda had told her “Birkin”. Here the more appropriate title would be Charlotte by Jane … and vice versa. And we come out with a smile and cloudy eyes.

Of Charlotte Gainsbourg. Duration: 1h28. Released on January 12, 2022

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