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An amoral teenager (Jean Seberg) seeks to prevent her aging roué father (David Niven) from succumbing to marital responsibility — with disastrous results — in Otto Preminger's masterful adaptation of the notorious novel by Françoise Sagan.
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Some days Bonjour Tristesse looks like the greatest film ever made, so precise is its mise en scène, so devastating its tonal and narrative control. (It influenced several films, from Godard's Breathless and Éloge de l'amour to Rohmer's Le Rayon vert.) Based on Françoise Sagan's famous novel of the same name, Bonjour Tristesse opens in wintry lassitude in Paris before flashing back to a Technicolor rendering of the immediate past, set on the Riviera where aging roué David Niven and teenage daughter Jean Seberg lead a carefree life of sun and sin, their brittle badinage merely a mask for amorality. When the elegant, worldly Anne (majestically embodied by Deborah Kerr in Givenchy and immaculate coiffure) arrives for a visit and Niven shows signs of succumbing to marital respectability, Seberg determines to keep things the way they were, with disastrous results. Preminger's cool, objective viewpoint and his masterful deployment of Scope composition and colour intensify the film's unsettling sense of casual spite and destruction. "Arguably, this is Preminger's masterpiece" (Dave Kehr); "One of Preminger's greatest films" (Chris Fujiwara). Juliette Greco sings the haunting title tune.