Watch Bonjour Tristesse
- 1 hr 34 min
Bonjour Tristesse (1958) is a French adaptation of the eponymous novel by FranÃ§oise Sagan. Directed by Otto Preminger, it presents an indulgence of emotions and cynicism born out of the French New Wave. Set in the French Riviera, the movie tells the story of Cecile (Jean Seberg), a carefree teenage girl who enjoys the pleasures of life: swimming, sunbathing, and flirting with men. She lives with her elderly father Raymond (David Niven), a wealthy idler who mostly fritters away his time with his different mistresses.
Everything changes when Raymond brings a sharp and elegant woman, Anne (Deborah Kerr), to their vacation home. She is a friend of his former wife who died years earlier. Unlike the other women in Raymond's life, Anne is cultured and austere, and Cecile feels instantly threatened by her. Anne obviously disrupts the idyllic father-daughter bond of Cecile and Raymond, as their relationship becomes more and more complicated. Cecile, who has learned to enjoy the freedom of having no rules, sees in Anne an obstacle to her lifestyle. She becomes increasingly manipulative and resentful of Anne, waging a psychological war against her.
The movie plays with the themes of youth, pleasure, and manipulation. Cecile is a teenager trapped between the desire of living life without obligations and the fear of losing the only stable thing in her life, her father. She is narcissistic, self-centered, and arrogant, a quintessential teenager who thinks she knows better. The story centers around her conflicting emotions, swinging between childishness and maturity. Her behavior is sketched as a reaction to the loss of her mother and the emotionally absent father, turning Cecile into a damaged and hurt individual.
Raymond, on the other hand, is a man who has seen it all, and for whom women are interchangeable objects of pleasure. David Niven's performance adds a touch of refinement to his character, emitting a disarming charisma that makes it hard to hate him entirely. Although the movie does not shy away from portraying Raymond as a morally deprived person, Niven manages to appear affable even in his most deplorable moments.
Deborah Kerr is decidedly the most remarkable character of the movie. Her Anne is elegant, soft-spoken, and emotionally distant, qualities that exasperate Cecile. She is the antithesis to Cecile's personality, a representation of the upper-class intellectualism that Cecile rejects. Kerr conveys the sadness and melancholy of a woman who is aware of the precariousness of her situation, yet determined to make the best of it. Her chemistry with both Seberg and Niven is palpable and electrifying, adding depth to the movie's intimate atmosphere.
Bonjour Tristesse is a movie that reflects a society on the cusp of change. The French New Wave can be seen throughout the film, not only in the choice of subject matter but also in the cinematography. The camera lingers on the beauty of the natural setting and immerses the audience in the languid and hazy atmosphere of the French Riviera. The story, too, is a commentary on the changing dynamics of society, particularly on the position of women. Anne's character represents a generation of women who want more than just marriage and children, while Cecile's character represents the fragility of the youth's sense of self, and the destructive forces of emotions.
In conclusion, Bonjour Tristesse is a movie that deserves more recognition. It is a captivating story that explores the elusive nature of love and relationships with a certain tenderness and cynical wit. Jean Seberg's performance is convincing, but it is Deborah Kerr who steals the show. An evocative tale of longing and regret, Bonjour Tristesse thrills with its skillfull artistic approach and remains relevant even after several decades.
Bonjour Tristesse is a 1958 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9.