Bonjour Tristesse (1958) - Rotten Tomatoes

Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Francoise Sagan's bittersweet novel Bonjour Tristesse is given a sumptuous Riviera-filmed screen treatment. David Niven plays a wealthy playboy, the father of teenaged libertine-in-the-making Jean Seberg. Seberg tolerates most of her father's mistresses, but doesn't know what to make of the prudish Deborah Kerr, who will not cohabit with Niven until after they're married. Feeling that her own relation with her father will be disrupted by Kerr's presence, Seberg does her malicious best to break up the relationship--only to be beaten to the punch by Niven, who despite his promises of fidelity to Kerr cannot give up his hedonistic lifestyle. The combination of the daughter's disdain and the father's rakishness drive Kerr to suicide. Niven and Seberg continue pursuing their lavish but empty lifestyle, though both realize that their lack of moral fibre has destroyed a life. The incestuous undertones of the original Sagan novel are only slightly downplayed in the film version; the "tristesse" (sadness) is visually conveyed by filming the Deborah Kerr flashback scenes in color and the opening and closing of the film in bleak black and white. Bonjour Tristesse was codirected by Otto Preminger, who'd previously discovered Jean Seberg for his benighted 1957 filmization of Saint Joan.

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Cast

David Niven
as Raymond
Deborah Kerr
as Anne Larson
Juliette Greco
as Nightclub Singer
Martita Hunt
as Philippe's Mother
Roland Culver
as Mr. Lombard
Jean Kent
as Mrs. Lombard
David Oxley
as Jacques
Jeremy Burnham
as Hubert Duclos
Tutte Lemkow
as Pierre Schube
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Critic Reviews for Bonjour Tristesse

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (8)

A brilliant dialectical filmmaker, Preminger extracts the last ounce of pathos from the anguish of the mute witness.

May 16, 2016 | Full Review…
New Yorker
Top Critic

The final shot is one of the most convincingly grief-stricken in cinema.

August 27, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Niven and Kerr keenly satirize their onscreen iconographies-the cad and the goody-goody, respectively-but it's Seberg who cuts deepest.

April 24, 2012 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Otto Preminger's formally dazzling 1958 film is an edifice constructed of contrasts.

April 24, 2012 | Full Review…
Village Voice
Top Critic

Script deficiencies and awkward reading -- some lines are spoken as though just that -- have static results.

October 23, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

The flirtation with incest at the centre of this adaptation of Françoise Sagan's novel is tame by modern standards, but the evil scheming of Seberg as the daughter set on separating her father and his mistress is still forceful.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Bonjour Tristesse

Interesting family dynamics. Cecile (Jean Seberg) seems overly dependent on her playboy father played by David Niven. This film is more of a tragedy than a comedy though.

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer

You can forgive David Niven in the shorty shorts with such a great story to tell. Here we have the ultimate father daughter relationship where party dad lives younger than his age much to the delight of his offspring. when it appears that daddy will actually grow up and start a new life with Deborah Kerr..well..watch the sparks fly. Great Preminger.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

½

[font=Century Gothic]In "Bonjour Tristesse," Cecile(Jean Seberg) is the 17-year old daughter of Raymond(David Niven), a wealthy businessman. They are also the best of friends who are having fun on their summer holiday in the south of France. She has met a young man, Philippe(Geoffrey Horne), while Raymond's guest, Elsa(Mylene Demongeot), is enjoying herself, too. Into this happy household, he forgot that he had also invited Anne(Deborah Kerr), Cecile's godmother.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Made in 1958, "Bonjour Tristesse" is clearly ten years ahead of its time but we are still only in 1968. In the interim, the movie has not aged well and could have definitely used more of an edge. It chronicles a time when it was becoming hip that parents could be hip but wonders at what cost?(These are noble sentiments which are unnecessarily voiced by the characters themselves.) Raymond has been a spectacularly bad role model for Cecile but Anne shows promise as she is herself a successful fashion designer who wants Cecile to study for her exams.(I do believe in parental responsibility but not societal responsibility.) Cecile has other ideas, simply wanting to play in the moment and be supported by men in the future. [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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