Cecile, a precocious seventeen-year-old played effortlessly by Jean Seberg (Breathless), and her libertine father Raymond (David Niven) escape from Paris to their Mediterranean villa.
Preminger contrasts the characters' tristesse ('sadness') in a monochrome Paris with flashbacks to a luminous colour-filled summer in the Riviera. Happy to live the luxurious lifestyle they both crave, free from responsibility, the golden-skinned duo dedicate themselves to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures.
However, when Raymond decides to marry, Cecile's whimsical nature pushes her to lay down a path of destruction, affecting the lives of everyone involved.
What the press said
"[its] opening titles could flaunt the credits “gowns by Hermès, make-up by Givenchy, jewels by Cartier”. Clearly, they don’t make ‘em like they could once afford to" - MovieMail
"you’d be forgiven in thinking it might be all style over substance, but in putting his faith in his discovery, Preminger crafts a masterful father/daughter tragedy." - Movie Talk
"an extremely interesting and entertaining minor work from the great director Otto Preminger" - Derek Winnert
"Contrasting the picture-perfect backdrop, Saul Bass’ title sequence and Juliette Gréco’s rendition of the title song add to the melancholy. " - Total Film
"On the surface the film is a melodrama about privilege, but at heart it’s so much more." - Neither Fame Nor Fortune
Seduced by Bonjour Tristesse - The Guardian
The tragic life of actress Jean Seberg is re-assessed by her biographer Garry McGee - Front Row, BBC Radio 4 (UK only)
We celebrate the inimitable chic of the star of Bonjour Tristesse, Jean Seberg - AnOther Magazine
Sight & Style: David Niven in Bonjour Tristesse - Esquire
Bonjour Tristesse: a golden-age masterpiece ripe for rediscovery - The Guardian
Jean Seberg: the best pixie haircut ever - The Guardian
United Kingdom: 30 August