DirectorOtto Preminger Story byFrancoise Sagan Duration LanguageEnglish
Release date15 January 1958 (1958-01-15) (New York, US) Based onBonjour tristesse
by Francoise Sagan WriterArthur Laurents (screenplay), Francoise Sagan (based on the novel by) CastJean Seberg (Cecile), Deborah Kerr (Anne Larson), David Niven (Raymond), Mylène Demongeot (Elsa), Geoffrey Horne (Philippe), Walter Chiari (Pablo) Similar moviesSelf/less, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Bridget Jones's Diary, The Santa Clause, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Bonjour tristesse seasons in the sun
Bonjour Tristesse (French "Hello, Sadness") is a 1958 British-American Technicolor film in CinemaScope, directed and produced by Otto Preminger from a screenplay by Arthur Laurents based on the novel of the same title by Françoise Sagan. The film stars Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Jean Seberg, Mylène Demongeot and Geoffrey Horne, and features Juliette Gréco, Walter Chiari, Martita Hunt and Roland Culver. It was released by Columbia Pictures. This film had colour and black and white sequences, a technique unusual for the 1950s but widely used in silent movies and early talking films.
On the French Riviera, Cécile (Jean Seberg) is a decadent young girl who lives with her rich playboy father, Raymond (David Niven). Anne (Deborah Kerr), a mature and cultured friend of Raymond's late wife, arrives at Raymond's villa for a visit. Cécile is afraid that Anne will disrupt the undisciplined way of life that she has shared with her father.
Despite his promises of fidelity to Anne, Raymond cannot give up his playboy life. Helped by Elsa (Mylène Demongeot), Raymond's young and flighty mistress, Cécile does her best to break up the relationship with Anne. The combination of the daughter's disdain and the father's rakishness drives Anne to a tragic end.
Deborah Kerr as Anne Larsen
David Niven as Raymond, Cécile's father
Jean Seberg as Cécile, age 17
Mylène Demongeot as Elsa
Geoffrey Horne as Philippe, Cécile's summer fling on the Riviera
Juliette Gréco as herself, singing "Bonjour Tristesse"
Walter Chiari as Pablo, a friend of Elsa
Martita Hunt as Philippe's mother
Roland Culver as Mr. Lombard, Raymond's business partner
Jean Kent as Mrs. Lombard
David Oxley as Jacques, Cécile's new friend in Paris at start of film
Elga Andersen as Denise, Raymond's new mistress in Paris at start of film
Jeremy Burnham as Hubert, Cécile's painter friend in Paris at start of film
Eveline Eyfel as Maid
The film met with a lukewarm critical reception at the time. The BFI's Monthly Film Bulletin: "The best performance is David Niven’s; he gives his part a pathetic touch that the writing never attains. Jean Seberg, who speaks rather than acts her lines, turns in the least effective performance. Bonjour Tristesse is an elegant, ice cold, charade of emotions, completely artificial and eventually torpid." Others enjoyed it rather more and it had some unexpected friends. François Truffaut described Seberg as “The best actress in Europe’. Jean-Luc Godard said "The character played by Jean Seberg [in Breathless] was a continuation of her role in Bonjour Tristesse, I could have taken the last shot of Preminger's film and started after dissolving to a title: "Three years later". A Guardian piece in 2012 described it as “an example of Hollywood's golden age, and both its star and its famously tyrannical director are ripe for rediscovery.”
The film currently holds an 86% approval rating according to Rotten Tomatoes. Critic Keith Uhlich of Time Out New York wrote: "the director uses the expansive CinemaScope frame and his eye for luxuriant, clinical mise en scéne to soberly probe rather than gleefully prod. The cast is across-the-board exemplary. Niven and Kerr keenly satirize their onscreen iconographies—the cad and the goody-goody, respectively—but it’s Seberg who cuts deepest."