Bonjour Tristesse (film)

Bonjour Tristesse (French "Hello, Sadness") is a 1958 British-American Technicolor film in CinemaScope,[2] 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.

Bonjour Tristesse
Film poster, designed by Saul Bass
Directed byOtto Preminger
Produced byOtto Preminger
Screenplay byArthur Laurents
Based onBonjour tristesse
1954 novel
by Françoise Sagan
Music byGeorges Auric
CinematographyGeorges Périnal
Edited byHelga Cranston
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • 15 January 1958 (1958-01-15) (New York, US)
Running time
94 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Box office$13.2 million[1]


On the French Riviera, Cécile is a decadent young girl who lives with her rich playboy father, Raymond. Anne, a mature and cultured friend of Raymond's late wife, arrives at Raymond's villa for a visit. Anne and Raymond become close but Cécile finds that Anne threatens to reform 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, 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.[3]


Critical reception

The film met with a lukewarm critical reception at the time. The BFI's Monthly Film Bulletin:[4] "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 [5] 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." Stanley Kauffmann described Bonjour Tristesse as tedious.[6]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating 86% based on reviews from 12 critics.[7] 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."


  1. Box Office
  2. "Bonjour Tristesse". Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  3. Bonjour Tristesse (1957) – Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast. Allmovie.
  4. Monthly Film Bulletin, British Film Institute, No. 292. Vol. 25. May 1958. Page 55.
  5. Tony Paley (10 October 2012). "Bonjour Tristesse: a golden-age masterpiece ripe for rediscovery". The Guardian.
  6. Kauffmann, Stanley (1968). A world on Film. Delta Books. p. 175.
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