The first scenes were analogous to the “Lost in Translation” movie. The vibrating Japanese capital, the hustle and bustle, the constant movement of people, machines and time. Then, suddenly, amidst all this noise, there is an image of calm Jane Birkin sketching portraits on small sheets of paper. A perfect juxtaposition of two opposed moments. The buzz of the metropolis is contrasted with an older woman immersed in her passion. However, one of the title characters of the French documentary, unlike the protagonists of the 2003 film mentioned above, will not experience loneliness, which Tokyo residents face even in real life. Her daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, soon appears on the screen. Two women, in all this big city noise, will find inner peace and a sense of love in the company of each other. The mother-daughter relationship is the most special one. It will survive every perturbation, every chaos, every storm. And that’s what, among other things, the documentary “Jane by Charlotte” (2022) beautifully proves there.
The movie is a montage of recordings of everyday moments and conversations between Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, directed by the former. It was shot as if it was to serve the family only in the form of memories that can be brought back at any given moment. The frames are unstable, nothing is staged, the conversations are painfully real, and the background music appears almost non-existent. It’s as if the French actress never really aimed for this documentary to be shown in cinemas all around the world. We, the viewers, are not of the importance. The fact that we get to discover some unknown details from the life of the famous Jane Birkin is because a person, who does not regard her as an icon of the 60s, wanted to share what her mother decided to tell her. As it turns out, however, Charlotte herself was not aware of many things, and her mom, until the moment of these frank conversations, remained not fully revealed to her.
The atmosphere of the movie is maintained as extremely gentle and idyllic. After all, it is a relationship that has already matured. We see two grown women, not a female with her crazy teenager. That’s why Charlotte’s gaze on Jane is so tender. As if with one glance she wanted to tell her how grateful she was for every day spent with her. For every life lesson, for every moment of consolation, for every dried tear. In one of the last scenes, Charlotte sits on the ground to look up at her mother as the greatest authority she has ever had.
Even though this is an unstaged documentary, we know that these looks are of importance here. The film ends with the beautiful phrase Plus te regarde, plus je t’aime. The sentence that might be said between two lovers is addressed to the mother. This act proves that it is the most beautiful of all forms of love, which has no equal to any other feeling felt by a human being. And this is what, among many other things, the documentary “Jane by Charlotte” shows us. Jane Birkin once again stirs the entire world – but this time, in a completely unobvious for her way.
Written by Agata Zagożdżon