Bonjour Tristesse(Twilight Time Blu-ray)
Directors - Otto Preminger
Cast - Jean Seberg, David Niven
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 1
Distributor - Twilight Time
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (3/5)
Back in 2005 I picked up a copy of the Scarecrow Movie Guide, at the time I was still addicted to capsule movie books, and getting one for a video store in a city I was planning to move to seemed like a pretty awesome idea. I knew I'd probably be spending a lot of time at Scarecrow I might as well read the book, and get a vibe for the place. The book had a section that was dedicated to films that needed a good release on DVD, and on this list were some films that were currently neglected (a few Jodorowsky films for example), also on that list was Otto Preminger's Bonjour Tristesse.
Over the years I've gone through as many films on that list as they came out as they could, but this one was always one that has evaded me. When Twilight Time finally announced the Preminger film for Blu-ray I practically jumped out of my skin with excitement. The general consensus I was hearing was that it was one of Preminger's best, and I was already a great fan of his Anatomy of a Murder. So when it arrived at my door it went straight to my Blu-ray player.
The film features Jean Seberg as Cecile a spoiled rich girl who lives with her widowed Father, Raymond, who is something of a playboy. As the film begins he is dating a woman named Else, but soon invites his ex-girlfriend, who also happens to be a friend of Cecile's Mom, Anne to visit them at their French Riveira summer home. Soon after Else is out of the picture, and Anne is in. Whereas Else was a fun loving type who was in line with Cecile's youthful outlook on the world, Anne is more like a typical stepparent, and her arrival changes things almost immediately for the freewheeling Cecile. She does not like the sudden change, and begins to do whatever she can do end this relationship and restore order to her life.
With my anticipation for the film at a fever pitch, I found myself ultimately disappointed by what ended up being a teenage precursor to The Parent Trap. The film is based off what was a popular debut novel by Francoise Sagan. Sagan wrote novels about angry rich youth in the 50's, and watching Bonjour Tristesse now, it's hard to watch a film about such an unsympathetic character.
The film seemingly has 2 things going for it. The direction from Preminger is quite excellent blending a skillful use of both color and black and white cinematography to great effect, and keeping the film going at a reasonable pace. Also, the performances are across the board fantastic. Jean Seberg even at this early stage in her career was already showing quite a degree of acting prowess in her role as Cecile.
I am rarely one to say that character identification is important in understand, and enjoying a film. One does not need to feel like they understand or like Travis Bickle to enjoy and get Scorsese's Taxi Driver, but my feeling with Bonjour Tristesse is that the films plot feels so typical especially at this point in time. We have seen this story many times before and since, and the characters are so far removed from any reality we may even come close to knowing that it is hard to fully get on board with the film. The direction and performances definitely help to make Bonjour Tristesse truly watchable, but it feels like a mostly superficial viewing at best.
Twilight Time have presented Otto Preminger's Bonjour Tristesse in an absolutely splendid looking 2:35:1 AVC encoded 1080p transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. This is another Twilight Time transfer that simply is a stunner. The Black and White sequences have great detail and contrast. The color sequences are bright and colorful, with accurate flesh tones, solid black levels, and a healthy dose of film grain present on the transfer.
Twilight Time have presented the film with a similarly excellent DTS-HD master audio mono track in English. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout, as is the music and limited use of effects. I did not detect any instances of audio defects on the track.
Twilight Time have included their usual isolated score, and the films trailer which is integrated with an interview with the author of the source material Francoise Sagan.
A well-regarded film by Otto Preminger. Bonjour Tristesse by Twilight Time has excellent performances, and direction, but the story and characters leave a lot to be desired. The restoration of the film simply looks stunning. The extras are quite limited. Recommended Rental.