Charlotte Gainsbourg looks at her mother Jane Birkin in a way she never did, overcoming a sense of reserve. Using a camera lens, they expose themselves to each other, begin to step back, leaving space for a mother-daughter relationship.
A love letter from a daughter to mother, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s directorial debut, Jane By Charlotte, is one of the most intimate looks at the international icon, Jane Birkin. Through photographs, home movies, and quiet, casual sit-down interviews, we learn things about Jane right along with Charlotte. It is as if we are experiencing the same revelations. Seeing Jane and Charlotte perform, you’d never guess they were so soft-spoken in real life. There’s breezy energy about the film that is difficult to describe. As a mother, it touched me in a very personal way. At 41, I’m only just becoming comfortable with questions like Charlotte asks of Jane. As an American, I acknowledge the cultural differences with which we discuss intimacy. In the conversations between Jane and Charlotte, I am in awe of their relationship. Will I be more comfortable having such an open line of communication with my daughter? My daughter, also named Charlotte, is just about to turn five, but it is something I aspire to attain.
Jane and Charlotte find common ground in parenting styles and celebrity. They speak openly about Jane’s lifelong dependency on sleeping pills, inspiration for songs, and her various marriages. The loss of her daughter Kate was perhaps the most impactful event in her life. The grief she carries is palpable. Jane and Charlotte discuss maternal guilt. It’s one of the most poignant through lines in the film. Charlotte’s eye and adoration for her mother are written all over this doc. It’s a lovely ode to a beloved icon from a daughter who continues to idolize her. As a mother, Jane By Charlotte has a revelatory feeling of intimacy. Gainsbourg‘s documentary makes me jealous in the best way possible.
Opens Friday, March 18th at the Quad Cinema in New York and
March 25th at the Landmark Westwood in Los Angeles
Expands to additional cities in April + Available on Digital May 6th (Mother’s Day weekend)
About Jane Birkin
A native of London, Jane Birkin began her career as an actress appearing in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (1966), and Kaleidoscope (1966). In 1968, she began a years-long working and personal relationship with Serge Gainsbourg; The duo released their debut album Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg in 1969, and Birkin also appeared in the film Je t’aime moi non plus (1976) under Gainsbourg’s direction. Birkin later starred in the Agatha Christie adaptations Death on the Nile (1978), and Evil Under the Sun (1982), and continued to work as both an actress and a singer, appearing in various independent films and recording numerous solo albums. In 1991, she appeared in the miniseries “Red Fox,” and in the American drama film, A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries in 1998. Having lived primarily in France since the 1970s, Birkin is the mother of photographer Kate Barry, actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, and musician Lou Doillon.
About Charlotte Gainsbourg
Charlotte Gainsbourg grew up on film sets as both of her parents, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, were involved in the film industry. At the age of 13, she debuted in her first motion picture playing Catherine Deneuve’s daughter in the film Paroles et Musiques. In 1986, Charlotte won a César Award for Most Promising Actress for An Impudent Girl. That same year she appeared in the film Charlotte For Ever written and directed by Charlotte’s father Serge Gainsbourg. From 1988 until today, Charlotte expanded her career with various projects such as The Cement Garden, Jane Eyre, 21 Grams, Ma Femme Est Actrice, I’m Not There, The Science of Sleep, Golden Door, The Tree, Samba, Mon Chien Stupide, and Lars von Triers’ films Melancholia, Antichrist and Nymphomaniac. In 2009, she won the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for Antichrist. While Charlotte has been working on film projects, she led another rich career in Music as a singer and a composer and released several albums: Charlotte for Ever (1986), 5:55 (2006), IRM (2009), Stage Whisper (2011), Rest (2017).