Final Day! Thursday, May 24

BONJOUR TRISTESSE

  • 4:35
  • 6:30

$7 Member   $12.50 Regular

*****! 5 STARS!
[highest rating]
"ESSENTIAL BIG-SCREEN VIEWING!"

– Time Out New York

 

DIRECTED BY OTTO PREMINGER • STARRING JEAN SEBERG  DAVID NIVEN  DEBORAH KERR

BONJOUR TRISTESSE

(1958) Ah, last summer on the Riviera! The glistening azure ocean across the CinemaScoped horizon; the luxurious villa; the revolving door of servants all named something-ine; hunkish law-student-next-door Geoffrey Horne; the variations on “brilliant!” spun by Daddy’s platinum-haired girlfriend Mylène Demongeot; the endless round of beach, tennis, sailing, scuba diving; the outdoor dancing through the night! And who cares if flunking teenage philosophy student Jean Seberg and her playboy dad David Niven kiss their good mornings on the lips and call each other by their first names? So why is the present in Paris, so gloomily — if spectacularly — black and white, even as chanteuse Juliette Greco huskily intones the title tune — it’s still an endless round of art openings, cocktail parties, and dances in smoky boîtes, isn’t it? But that last guest of the summer, Seberg’s late mom’s best friend, renowned couturier Deborah Kerr, was so much more sensible, responsible, successful… nicer than anybody else. And so… Preminger’s adaptation of the international bestseller by 19-year-old Françoise Sagan featured his trademark long takes and objective camera placement, the bright colors of the Riviera dissolving into stark Parisian b&w (a chef d’oeuvre by DP Georges Périnal), overwhelming charm even by Niven’s normal standards, ditzy comedy from the sadly underrated Demongeot, and a typically near-amateurish/fresh-and-unique Seberg performance that led to her being cast in Breathless — Godard saw it as a continuation of the same character. Approximately 94 minutes.

A SONY PICTURES REPERTORY RELEASE

REVIEWS

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"ONE OF THE MOST GORGEOUS FILMS EVER MADE! This plangent, romantic tale about a spoiled rich girl (Seberg, utter perfection)... is always worth seeing on the big screen."
New York Magazine

"The spare, cynical drama gives rise to some of Preminger’s most ingenious stylistic flourishes… The best is saved for last: at a climactic moment, offscreen voices conjure a staggering coup de théâtre that brings the dénouement to life in a series of indelible images."
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker

"The heart of the picture is in its contrasting acting styles: Kerr is moving and Niven gives his best performance, both heartbreaking and arch, but Seberg is inimitable–intense and baroque–with bizarre line readings conveying a shattered disposition."
– Miriam Bale, The L Magazine

"ONE OF THE GREAT UNDERAPPRECIATED FILMS OF THE 1950s!"
– Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice

“In the first dissolve to the past, as the color gradually saturates the black and white image, the effect is stunning — the cinematic equivalent of a coup de théâtre… The landscape — a pine forest next to the villa, the turquoise sea, rust-colored rocks along the shore —  shimmers in a sparkling light… Recalls the pattern set by Laura, [but] also anticipates Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Antonioni’s L’Avventura, which also explore the alienation of the European upper bourgeoisie. But it was Preminger who first sensed the subject’s potential… Ends on a close-up of Jean that is a tour de force… A cool, stylish beauty with ultrachic, trendsetting short hair and wearing a smart Givenchy cocktail dress, Seberg in the last shot looks like the real thing, a movie star who can also act.” 
– Foster Hirsch

“Arguably Preminger’s masterpiece… Long takes and balanced Scope compositions are used to bind the characters together; Preminger uses the wide screen not to expand the spectacle, but to narrow and intensify the drama.” 
– Dave Kehr

“A MASTERPIECE OF AMBIGUITY AND OBJECTIVITY! Transformed by Preminger’s color/black-and-white duality into a tragedy of time and illusion.”
– Andrew Sarris

“The genius of Preminger completely bursts with the discovery of a musicality in the movements of the bodies and the characters’ consciousness. The film is some sort of abstract painting where the mixture of black and white with vivid colors, of a rocky and liquid nature with the psychological insignificance of the characters, brings forth a particular sensuality which Godard will remember for Le Mepris.”
– Jean- François Rauget, Cahiers du Cinema

“Preminger's chief strengths as an auteur—the ability to turn any given scene, even those consisting merely of three or four characters trading banter, into fantastically complex dance-like studies of malleable moods and actions—is present in Bonjour Tristesse in spades… Jean-Luc Godard, who at the time was still one of France's most notable film critics, was one of the film's early champions (he even cast Seberg the following year in his debut Breathless with the notion that she would basically be playing the same person in both films), and that's all too appropriate, because, in retrospect, Bonjour Tristesse also reveals itself to be ahead of what would become a cliché in the European art cinema of the '60s. Namely, its primary concern is the spiritual and moral decay of the idle upper class, and it came two years before Fellini's La Dolce Vita (their very titles conflict with each other) and Antonioni's L’Avventura.”
– Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

“BEWITCHING! Seberg’s screen presence is irresistible.”
– Tom Beer, Time Out New York

“When Seberg is on the screen, you can’t look at anything else... It is Preminger’s love poem to her.”
– François Truffaut