Based on the then scandalous novel of the same name by Françoise Sagan, Bonjour Tristesse (Goodbye Sadness in English) tells the tale of Cécile played by Jean Seberg, a young French girl vacationing along the French Rivieria with her bon vivant father, Raymond (David Niven). Cécile is only 17, and like a lot of jeune filles, thinks she knows everything. She is indulged and indolent, and has left school after doing poorly on her exams. She fills her days with swimming and tanning, and her nights dancing at decadent clubs often with a dashing older man by the name of Phillipe.
Cécile is very close to her dashing father, some might same disturbingly close. And she tolerates his flighty young girlfriend, Elsa (Mylène Demongeot) who at the time is nursing a bad sunburn. Cécile pretty much wants her father all to herself.
Shortly, arrives Anne Larsen (Deborah Kerr), a friend of Raymond’s late wife. Anne is a fashion designer and quite cultured and well-bred. Cécile is not happy with Anne’s arrival. She thinks Anne’s stay will be the end of her care-free summer amusement. Cécile inklings aren’t exactly off the mark. Anne thinks Cécile needs to cut back on some of her fun and frolic, and buckle down and study so she can improve her marks at school and do better on her exams. Granted, Anne has a point; school should be taken very seriously. And speaking of getting serious, Phillipe wants the summer fling he is currently enjoying with Cécile to become a bit more permanent. Not surprisingly, Cécile won’t have any of that. She just wants to have her bit of amorous fun with Phillipe.
It isn’t long before Cécile’s father, Raymond, roving eyes turn towards the more sophisticated Anne. And Elsa is cast aside. But instead another knotch in Raymond’s bedpost, Anne becomes a much more. Cécile is not happy about this. And she vows to break them apart.
With a screenplay written by Arthur Laurents Bonjour Tristesse is directed and produced by Otto Preminger who directed such film classics as The Man With the Golden Arm, Laura and Carmen Jones. Bonjour Tristesse is filmed in both black and white and in color. To me, the color conveyed the blithe of Cécile’s summer on the French Rivieria whereas the black and white speaks of the tragedy yet to come. I did find it odd that other than the supporting cast, the two adult leads, Raymond and Anne, were played by two Brits and Cécile e was portrayed by the very-American Jean Seberg. I must also say I was delighted to see French chanteuse, Juliette Gréco playing herself at a nightclub frequented by Cécile. All actors are quite convincing in their parts, and in the final scene Miss Seberg says more with a look on her face than a page of dialogue could ever do.