Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Bonjour Tristesse.

Describing a film as pish[1] is not very professional I concur, but with Otto Preminger's 1958's Bonjour Tristesse it's the ideal use of the word! In this movie i have a problem finding something positive to say except there are certainly some smart cars, some very nice frocks and of cause the attractive Mylene Demongeot and technically there is some decent cinematography, but even admitting this, bear in mind that the DOP did have the Côte d'Azur and San Tropez to work with! There isn't much of a story to be honest what there is is based on a novel by Francoise Sagan - albeit a thin one – published in 1954 when the author was only 18.
"so many awful pretentious snobbish  characters"

What we have is David Niven in his normal toffee nosed twat role as a middle aged wealthy lothario with property in the South of France as well as Paris who has a seriously strange relationship with his daughter played by Jean Seberg. Most of the inaction takes place on the French coast in a large villa which father and daughter share with Daddy's latest squeeze (Demongeot) that is until father invites an old friend of his dead wife played by Deborah Kerr to make it four sharing. Tensions rise, squeeze is jealous because her fun life style and prospective nest egg could evaporate, daughter, a spoilt brat, hates prospective wife because this will come between father and daughter and her free wheeling life style. Even smarmy playboy Niven is not sure if he should marry Kerr, as he will have to stop having sexual affairs with much younger women.  Oh dear I'm not sure how it is possible to have so many awful pretentious snobbish upper class characters in one story line, but credit where credit due this story has achieved just that! Reality is not a word you would use to describe this sluggish melodrama. Believe it or not there were some critics that gave the film a positive review but the BFI’s appraisal did not hold back: "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."[2] I would suggest unless you’re a complete masochist then give this movie a very wide berth.

[1] Literally means piss urine pee etc. It is not a slang word as so many people assume but an ancient scots word, Scots being the Language of the Lowlanders of Scotland FACT!! Can also be used as a put down.
[2] BFI Monthly Film bulletin May 1958.

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