Sergio Garces (Diego Peretti) is the eponymous SG of the piece, who, among other fading talents, once released an album of Serge Gainsbourg covers under the film’s title. An incorrigible but aging ladies’ man, he harbours ambitions of forging a career on the silver screen, but has instead had to make do with major roles in pornographic films and minor roles in clean ones. On the eve of a film festival in which he will appear as a “featured extra” in 16 movies (but only eight of which have “visible screen time”), he finds himself instigating a relationship he doesn’t want and committing a crime he doesn’t intend to.
Initials SG is a desultory and droll character study of a man who values his own pleasures above that of others, but doesn’t have the ambition or the application to see beyond ones that don’t depend upon instant gratification. He’s genial enough in his dealings with others and his easy charisma wins him many lovers and even more friends, but he’s also prone to extreme anger management issues. When not imagining how he’d punish those guilty of petty transgressions – or pleading his case in court after acting upon such impulses – he’s normally stoned, drunk or masturbating furiously.
This onanistic existence is unlikely to win Sergio any awards (other than for prolific extra work), but it’s benign enough stuff. Sure, his casual disregard for the emotions of others in favour of his own indulgence and his short temper are not the most flattering character traits, but they don’t incur any life-changing repercussions… until suddenly they do. Right around the halfway mark, a horrific event spins the film on its head, turning it from an inconsequential and somewhat shallow black comedy into a deeper (but equally irreverent) investigation of how just because it feels good, doesn’t make it right.
The change of pace is crucial to the film’s success. What was once a mildly entertaining but ultimately fluffy piece of cinema suddenly takes on a harder edge, as we glimpse how all that hedonism does have a hangover after all. The physical deterioration of Garces’ face and demeanour tallies with his mental slide into the abyss, making for some uncomfortable scenes that don’t pull their punches. In the end, he cuts a figure who it’s possible to despise, pity and appreciate all at once, with Peretti’s natural performance and Attieh and Garcia’s script instrumental in creating a highly believable moral tale of ego against compassion.