Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

RERELEASE FILM REVIEW || Director Otto Preminger | Writer Arthur Laurents (based on the novel by Françoise Sagan) | Cinematographer Georges Périnal | Starring Jean Seberg, David Niven, Deborah Kerr | Length 94 minutes | Seen at BFI Southbank (NFT2), London, Friday 30 August 2013 || My Rating 4 stars excellent

© Columbia Pictures

Jean Seberg, whose career was much too short, gained her greatest fame when she appeared in Jean-Luc Godard’s debut À bout de souffle (Breathless, 1960). Godard, like many directors in the French New Wave, adored American B-movies, but it’s fair to say he also had a lot of respect for the mainstream films of such idiosyncratic studio directors as Nicholas Ray, Douglas Sirk and Otto Preminger. Therefore it’s no surprise that Godard claimed that Seberg’s character in his film was a continuation of her role of Cécile in Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse of only two years earlier. In both films, it would be possible to argue that Seberg’s young woman is in thrall to an overpowering older man, but where in Godard’s film that man is her occasional boyfriend and gangster Michel, here it’s her father Robert (played by an immaculate David Niven).

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