Sagan is a biopic on Françoise Sagan, the French author best known for ‘Bonjour tristesse’. This first novel, published when she was 19, was met with enormous success, and Sagan took to her newfound wealth like a duck to water.
During the course of the film, we get the unenviable task of watching the self involved though somehow entrancing Sagan squander not only millions of dollars but also any chance at happiness also. She keeps a veritable harem of men and women around her, sometimes marrying one or the other but never really committing to anyone. A bunch of bored bourgeoisie, none of her friends ever take a stand against her constant spending sprees or her refusal to conform to any sense of day to day life that most of us do without even thinking.
Sagan is an interesting film. The lead character, brilliantly played by Sylvie Testud, is quite abhorrent at times, yet one cannot resist watching her stumble through life seemingly without a care for anyone around her – and this is before she gets addicted to cocaine and prescription drugs. Incredibly, however, by the time we get to the end of her life, I found myself feeling sorry for her. This is no small feat when you consider that I was subjected to close to two hours of her selfish, spur of the moment behaviour.
This is a theatrical version of the French miniseries, and is thus cut from the original three hours to 117 minutes. The edited film does seem to jump forward in time quite often, though I never found it disorienting. The television budget, however, was a little jarring. It looked like it was shot on digital, and it was strange to see a biopic of a well known author to not be given the typically lavish budget we’re used to.
The miniseries to feature conversion phenomenon is rather worrying. It happened with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor) also, though in that case was rather successful. Simply compressing a narrative designed for a miniseries to half its length is rarely going to work, however, and perhaps Sagan would have been more compelling viewed in its original serial form or alternatively made as a feature.
This is a well performed if rather depressing film. It is a must for those with an interest in Sagan and her work, though many others will likely gain very little from it.Rating: